How did we get here? – FINAL

How did we get here? In other words, what is the history and cultural/social context of your problem? Who are the stakeholders?

Although the issues of machinery and computers taking over human jobs seems recent, the concept has been around for many centuries. Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been on a relentless and never-ending pursuit to create technology to replace humans. Beginning in the 18th century with the start of the Industrial Revolution, new technologies has been heralded as being the breakthrough that would elevate the quality of life of society and free humans from the shackles of back breaking manual labor. The reality, however, is that during the 18th century, the living situation did not improve as was hoped for by the Industrial Revolution. New manufacturing techniques meant that consumer goods could now be produced much cheaper and as a result, worker wages fell along with it (Feinstein, 1998, 627). Then, the cheaper cost of goods meant that there was more demand leading to rapid expansion and construction of factories in order to keep up with this demand. Factories need workers, so large amounts of people would migrate to the cities where these factories were built, overwhelming city construction and resulting in slums being built without sewage, leading to greater diseases and crime. In modern times, wages have stagnated not only because technology has made people’s jobs easier, but because it has replaced jobs entirely. In 2017, the World Economic Forum, estimate that although 2 million jobs would be added to the economy in the fields of computers, engineering, and mathematics, 7.1 million would be lost (Rasca, 2017, 476). The stakeholders are the companies and leaders that seek to drive down costs and increase profits while forgetting about all of the people being left at the wayside.

Source 1:

Rasca, Lavinia. (2017). Human Resource Challenges for the 21st Century. De Gruyter. 475-481

With the rapid pace of innovation in technology, the future economic landscape will be vastly different than from what exists today. The World Economic Forum in 2017 estimated that although 2 million jobs would be added to the economy, it would be counteracted by the 7.1 million jobs that would be lost as result from automation. Studies have also noticed that the workplace in 2020 is likely to be different from today. As the younger generation, which has lived most of their lives entwined with technology, the workplace will shift to more technology aided jobs and shorter workweeks due to the greater efficiency that new technology brings.

Source 2:

Feinstein, C. H. (1998). Pessimism Perpetuated: Real Wages and the Standard of Living in Britain during and after the Industrial Revolution. The Journal of Economic History, 58(03), 625-658. doi:10.1017/s0022050700021100

In the 18th century, the Industrial Revolution started the path towards mass manufacturing and the technology driven world that we have today. Although the innovation and technologies that have come about since that era have undeniably changed the world as a whole for the better, in some areas, its immediate impacts were more negative than it was positive. During the 18th century, the invention of machinery that made jobs easier meant that consumer goods could be produced for much much lower prices. However, due to the lower prices of consumer goods, worker wages also fell, failing to benefit workers as was hoped for. Additionally, due to lower prices on items, demand for those items increased, so more factories had to be built in order to keep up. These new factories obviously need workers, so there was a mass migration of workers into the cities these factories were located in, overwhelming the city’s resources, which lead to the rise of slums without proper sewage. As a result, workers were forced to work for low wages, with dangerous equipment, and in poor living conditions.



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