Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are two of the most talked about aspects in the modern world. They say the impact will be felt on both white-collar professional jobs, as well as on those involving blue-collared manual labour. By Aritro Dasgupta

 

Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are two of the most talked about aspects in the modern world. There is much debate on the merits and demerits of the same. However, there is little debate on the fact that these two are now firmly embedded in our lives, and set to have even greater impact in times to come. Several studies by the likes of Gartner and PwC, have affirmed this belief that more than mere daily living, an enormous impact will take place on the employment scene. There are several forecasts of doomsday for the future, with many predicting the loss of tens of millions of jobs. The impact will be felt on both white-collar professional jobs, as well as on those involving blue-collared manual labour.

The beauty of a Group Discussion (GD) is that any statement can be presented from either side or even with a neutral stance as long as the points stated are logical and not factually incorrect. To prove one’s point, citing of data released by credible sources such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Economic Forum (WEF), Forbes, Business Insider, Bloomberg, etc. Students would do well to focus on the 4 Cs of Group Discussions-Content, Collaboration, Communications and Clarity. Let us take a look at both the pros and the cons of these two trending topics- AI and automation.

Pros: Increase Jobs

Following are some points in support of this initiative:

A lot was made about impending job losses when computers first made their foray. It was predicted that the computer would do the job of many people, and thus render people unemployed. This didn’t happen much, though there was a transition period, as we see take place now. Instead, computers unlocked a whole new set of employment opportunities.
Automation is nothing new. It has been on ever since the first Industrial Revolution in England, back in the 18thSome might argue, it has been on ever since the dawn of human civilization, some five-thousand years back.
A lot of job losses are indeed taking place right now. But a lot of that is down to the usual business cycle of slowdown, and due to macro issues such as the US-China Trade War, but not directly linked to automation.
The spurt of AI will reduce a number routine, mundane jobs. Instead, it will allow humans to concentrate on more creative aspects, such as towards business innovation.
Several newer jobs have already sprung up. Data scientists and digital marketers for instance are a lot in demand now.
Cons: Decrease Jobs

There are also some points that may be used to justify the impending reduction in employment opportunities. They may be as follows:

Humans got away during the era of computers because there was a lot of new scope. Now that has reduced as societies in developed countries have already reached a certain stage of prosperity.
Developing countries too have joined in and are now at a far more advanced stage, when it comes to technology. So, there is lesser scope for newer activities. The rate of churn in technologies is also far quicker, meaning that many more number of people will get laid off, before they can find alternative employment.
Add climate change to the fray and this creates an alarming picture. When computers first emerged, few had any inkling about the devastating effects on the planet that would now be unleashed due to the rampant burning of fossil fuels. Now the situation is so dire, that any new idea has to be redressed using the most efficient means.
The population is also far greater now, so adjusting that many aspirational people to these newer jobs, will be an even greater challenge.
Ageism will bring in a further divide with the older generations, who will increasingly find it hard to cope in the present context. This will require further benefits in the form of old-age pensions or medical insurance.

There are several remedies that individuals, societies and companies could take up to address this imbalance. One of the most obvious ones, is to provide constant training and re-training opportunities. This is because no company wants to lose trusted veterans, even if they are incapable of handling newer technologies. So, these older professional need to be provided constant training on the latest tools. The education pattern too needs to be altered accordingly. At present, the syllabi across schools and colleges is based on the industrial age. Too much focus is given to discipline and rote-learning, rather than experiential or practical knowledge.

Societies too need to become more sensitive towards the fields of liberal arts and the social sciences. For long, since the dawn of industrialization, STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) has been accorded utmost importance. This is because STEM professionals were needed to execute large building, and infrastructural projects. But now, robots and automated tools can handle a lot of these repetitive tasks. One area which robots will never be able to replace humans in is- empathy. Add in creativity and innovation. Thus, humans must master areas where empathy, emotion, creativity and innovation can be best utilized. That is the reason STEM is now called as STEAM, with the additional A standing for the Arts.

MBA aspirants often make the mistake of allowing complacency to seep in, once all the entrance exams for the same are over and done with. But students must remember that sitting for these exams, and even doing very well in them is only half the job done. The grind of the personality assessment rounds remains. One of the most popular methods to assess students’ personality, is via Group Discussions (GDs). A GD typically pits in any trending topic of strategic importance for the students to debate on. It could also be a subtract topic, to test the students’ creativity and team work capacity.

 

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