Johannesburg — A TECHNOLOGY expert has urged society to look into the brighter side of fourth industrial revolution (4IR) than focus on the millions of jobs it will displace.
Byron Clatterbuck, Chief Executive Officer of SEACOM, said it was thus needless for the world to be depressed about the future of work.
He cited forecasts by the World Economic Forum (WEF) that robots would displace 85 million jobs by 2025.
“… … .but the good news is that they (4IR) will also create 97 million new roles,” Clatterbuck said.
“Alleviating fears that ‘robots and machines will take our jobs’ needs to become a priority if we plan to build a resilient, responsive skills base.
Clatterbuck argued society had lately became so concerned about the potential of the 4IR and what it meant such that it has not noticed that robots, machines, and technology already played a significant role in lives.
“For years we have been giving our unpleasant, less desirable work to machines without complaining about it.”
Clatterbuck said new jobs had been and would continue to be created to facilitate the digital migration and to continue to provide goods and services more efficiently, and in many cases, more safely.
Nonetheless, the executive noted South Africa could not take on the digital world without the skills and infrastructure.
Without proper roads, laying internet fibre would be difficult. Without proper internet access, it remains impossible to participate in the digital economy. “This creates an inequality gap in terms of skills development and access to technology,” Clatterbuck noted.
He said urban areas would be able to join the digital migration with ease, while rural communities risked being left behind as they lacked the relevant knowledge, skills and infrastructure.
“Education is essential in upskilling the population and bridging this gap; this is where there is potential for the government to step in and provide these opportunities,” Clatterbuck concluded.