How the Digital Age is Transforming Work, Life, and Business
The Transformations Wrought About by the Digital Age
This is the age of Smart Machines that can perform tasks that hitherto were being done by humans. Right from manufacturing automation where robots work on the factory floor to make products, to Artificial Intelligence driven algorithms that have predictive capabilities, and Big Data enabled Search Engines, all facets of our lives are being transformed.
Indeed, even work as we know it is being transformed wherein instead of the typical full time, 9 to 5 schedules and permanent and secure employment, part time work and the advent of the Gig Economy have altered the notion of work.
While the transformations of work and business are proceeding at an exponentially accelerating pace, life sciences are also being transformed wherein advances in genetics due to genome sequencing and DNA profiling are promising a future where we can choose our genes and that of our offspring.
Thus, the Digital Age is transforming what it means to be human with each and every aspect of our lives being impacted due to the onset of these technologies. No wonder that many experts are likening the Digital Age as a Fourth Industrial Revolution with the consequences as revolutionary and transformative as the pervious phases of the Industrial Revolutions.
What the Changes Mean to All of Us
So, what do all these changes mean to the average worker, professional, or a homemaker in terms of the positives and negatives? To start with, with work being redefined, we would increasingly see a trend where Gig Economy firms such as Uber, Upwork, Task Rabbit, and Amazon hire workers on a temporary basis and without any guarantee of a secure and permanent employment.
In addition, even corporates that have Full Time Employees on their payrolls would tend to hire temps and contractual employees without social security or healthcare benefits. In addition, remote working, telecommuting, and freelancing would become the norm as technology would make it easier for both professionals and employers alike to undertake these arrangements.
Having said that, there are significant social costs in terms of the workers and the professionals having to find the means to fund their social security and healthcare needs and this is where governments have to step in and provide arrangements such as a Basic Income, Publicly funded healthcare, and provision of pension benefits to older and retired workers.
Taken together, the transformation of work would cause ruptures in the social contract between employers and employees if not handled properly.
The Transformation of Life as We Know It
On the other hand, exciting advances in medicine and society enabled by the Digital Age would mean that life as we know would be transformed in significant ways. For instances, the revolutions in medicine would mean that genome sequencing and DNA profiling would make it possible to conquer disease and at the same time, ensure that cheaper treatments are available.
Of course, at the same time, it is also possible that this can lead to unequal access to medicine and surgery as most of these transformations come at a cost and hence, we should not end up in a situation where only the rich can afford them.
Indeed, much like everything about the Digital Age, the changes that we are seeing now have the potential to disrupt society and life and hence, such disruptions must be accompanied by a compassionate approach towards those who have been left behind.
Already, the Democratizing power of the internet and the Digital Age has given way to inequalities and inequities in terms of who is garnering the benefits. Thus, as mentioned earlier, there is a need for a new bargain or a social contract between the citizens and the governmental stakeholders so that everyone gains.
How Business Would be Transformed
Having said that, it is also the case that business are likely to be transformed in unimaginable ways with AI, Big Data, and Virtual Reality, ensuring a fundamental transformation in the way the economy works. Indeed, we might even see a transformation in the way the basic business model of corporates changes in terms of the very structure of them being altered.
In other words, top down and hierarchical nature of power relationships would give way to networked models where power is wielded by those who can leverage the power of such networks. Already Twitter and Facebook have given rise to the MeToo movement where gender based discrimination is now coming out into the open.
In addition, corporates might have to protect themselves against malicious intruders who can target them using these technologies. Further, as many experts have pointed out, there are significant risks to lone wolf cyber criminals who can exploit the vulnerabilities in the systemic networks. Thus, technology comes at a price and hence, the more we see changes, the more that some things would remain the same.
The 21st Century would be a time of transitions to a new way of working and living. The Digital Age wrought about technological changes would be the enabler of such transformations provided we harness the power and the promise of such technologies.
Having said that, the promise of a glorious future can easily become a perilous one if we collectively do not make the right choices. Thus, it is up to business leaders, governmental stakeholders, and societal actors to make the appropriate decisions as to how we can ensure a transition that is smooth or at least, less disruptive to our lives. To conclude, we owe it to the future generations to leave them a world that is sustainable.
Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)
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