The technological revolution threatens the unemployment crisis in China and the developed world, gaining momentum during the pandemic
They were compared with quantum leaps in the historical journey of mankind. But they are more like Grand Canyon-style jumps in our evolution.
Over the past 200 years, technological revolutions have expanded the boundaries of globalization and lifted millions of people out of poverty. And yet they came at a price.
The fourth industrial revolution will not be an exception.
Already, the situation is radically changing with China at the forefront of this bold, new world for some and a nightmare for others.
“China uses automation on a scale like no other country. From news anchor AI to [state-run television] up to one minute [health] clinics for robotic plants, China uses artificial intelligence and robots to capture the full range of human capabilities,Abishur Prakash, a geopolitical futurist at the Center for Future Innovation, a strategy consulting company, told The Asia Times.
“This may change the policy in the country. It was urban jobs that led to urbanization in China. However, now, if the workplaces of workers and employees are automated, reverse urbanization may follow. This will create a new type of economy for China, which, in turn, can change domestic policy, trade transactions and foreign policy, ”he said.
The scale of Beijing’s ambitions is enormous. According to official figures, last year investments in scientific and technical research in the second largest economy of the world amounted to 355.4 billion dollars. USA, or 2.5% of GDP.
Only the United States spent more when China circled Japan.
It appears that funding will accelerate in 2020 by allocating 3 trillion yuan or 423 billion US dollars for large projects in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Over the next six years, Shanghai Securities News will receive 17.5 trillion yuan, or 2.47 trillion dollars, to increase infrastructure costs in the high-tech sector.
Priority funding over the next 12 months will go to 5G base stations, electric vehicle charging points, large data centers, AI and industrial Internet such as robotics.
In addition, unlike previous rounds of traditional investments in infrastructure of roads, bridges and high-speed rail networks, private companies will actively participate in this.
However, the pace of change will create a different set of problems, including the specter of unemployment.
“China has coped with large-scale layoffs or economic downturns, creating huge state building forces. But now, people who may lose their jobs due to automation can be educated, qualified students in cities like Shenzhen and Shanghai. What is China’s plan for them? “Said Prakash, author of The Age of Robot Killers.”
Since 2014, the country’s automation industry has expanded by 28%, and in 2018, 650,000 robots appeared on the network.
However, this caused a negative reaction from the Chinese public. A study released for the media by the Spanish University of IE revealed the growth of “robophobia” during the coronavirus crisis.
Before the pandemic infected more than nine million people worldwide, only 27% supported limited automation in China. This number more than doubled to 59%, with the Chinese lagging behind the French most hostile to automation.
“The changing nature of work gives rise to fears of massive unemployment. These trends are straining relationships between citizens, firms, and governments around the world. ” The World Bank said in a report last year called “Changing Work Patterns”.
However, the benefits of the controversial Made in China 2025 digital program proved vital during the Covid-19 crisis.
Artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing and 5G “have effectively increased the country’s efforts to combat the epidemic.”
“It [was crucial] to monitoring, prevention, control and treatment of viruses, [as well as] Resource allocation, “ This was stated in a comment posted on the website of the World Economic Forum in April, the director general of the Administration for Cyberspace of the China Bureau of International Cooperation.
Even basic service robot models seem to play a role in food delivery and cleaning hospital corridors.
“It should be recognized that accelerating automation can lead to the reduction of certain jobs on an individual basis. Some people may suffer, which is an unavoidable cost of technological transition and development … however, new jobs will be created to replace those that have been lost, ”said Asia John Yuan Jiang, a researcher at Queensland University of Technology in Australia. Time.
But the problems persist. In developed and developing countries, the consequences of the catastrophic coronavirus threat threaten to provoke an economic situation and lead to an increase in unemployment around the world.
The number of urban unemployed in China has been growing since the beginning of the year. For the higher echelons of the ruling Communist Party, unemployment is a notoriously sensitive subject.
Indeed, the Fourth Industrial Revolution risks aggravating shocks.
“Already predicted that 51 million jobs in Europe may disappear due to automation [with Covid-19 being a factor], The fact is that the appetite for automation is growing, and it is no longer limited only to entry-level work, ”said Prakash from the Center for Future Innovation.
“These are no longer just cleaners, truck drivers or factory workers. Everyone can be on the bridgehead, because a pandemic has fundamentally changed the work of the business. Currently, there is a huge geopolitical danger, as automation begins to develop, ”he added.
Perhaps a revolution against a revolution?