Is Country Missing the Scarier Picture Where Jobs will be Scarce?
In its anxiety to boost immigration and Singapore’s population, the government has been consistently making a pitch for just that.
That came out loud and clear yet again two days ago when Ms Grace Fu, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, pointed out that Singapore’s citizen population by 2060 will shrink to that of the early 1990s if the country’s low birth rates persist and it shuts its doors to immigration.
To me, that will be good news and an ideal scenario as the early 1990s were when Singapore was at its best in terms of the quality of life for its citizens.
Scarier future when Digital Technology will Eliminate Jobs, Enable Greater Efficiency
I don’t think there is anything to dread if the population takes a dip. What is looming is a scarier future. There is a real danger of the country getting crammed with people at a breakneck pace and the labour market shrinks.
With increased focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) / robotics, digital technology, services automation, Internet of Things (IoT) / Internet of Everything (IoE) and outsourcing, businesses are globally expected to slash the workforce significantly within the next decade or so. Automation will hit the BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) sector too.
Go Digital or Die: Chambers
Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers has even gone to the extent of saying that “that almost half of today’s enterprises won’t exist in a few years unless they embrace the digital revolution.
Cisco is also going bolder and bolder in software, with nine out of its last 10 acquisitions being software or cloud-based companies. With application services, businesses will be able to cut down on staff-related costs.
Speaking at a Partner summit yesterday. Mr Chambers said: “You don’t see us as a software company? Don’t bet against us (in software). In five years we will take that market together,” he told them.
Cutting Reliance on Labour
While Singapore has been busy setting up a population centre and devising methods to increase the fertility rate and bring in “foreign talent”, businesses are setting up innovation centres to tap automation, artificial intelligence and other such measures that will reduce their reliance on labour.
For instance, just this week Wipro announced that it expected to reduce its workforce by 30% within the next three years. Wipro, a major global IT services company, currently employs more than 150, 000 people, hopes to tap technology and the other factors mentioned above.
Most IT majors are already slashing their workforce in a big way.
AI is a clear threat to labour, as scientists and experts, including Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates, have been warning of late.
Mr Hawking had warned earlier that AI could spell the end of the human race. “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded,” he had told BBC earlier this year.
Mr Gates also wonders why humans are not worried about the threat posed by AI to mankind.
Why is Singapore missing this big picture even while remaining bent on boosting the country’s population by hook or by crook?
My earlier post on how AI can Surpass Human Intellect – https://joslinv.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/artificial-intelligence-can-surpass-human-intellect-lead-to-destruction/
G Joslin Vethakumar