Con­fronting New In­no­va­tions

Indonesia Expat - - Contents - BY ASYIFA PUTRI

McKin­sey Dig­i­tal re­leased a find­ing in 2016 based on the labour force of 46 coun­tries that a third of tasks in­volved in 60 per­cent of jobs could be au­to­mated with to­day’s tech­nol­ogy. Labour that is rou­tinized like pack­ag­ing prod­ucts to equip­ment main­te­nance is eas­ily done by ro­bots.

In fact, when a fac­tory in Dong­guan City re­placed 90 per­cent of its hu­man labour with ma­chines, pro­duc­tiv­ity in­creased 250 per­cent as a re­sult. Re­cently, Ama­zon launched de­liv­ery drones that promised to pro­vide a more rapid and safe de­liv­ery ser­vice in the United King­dom. As for min­ing, I don’t see how the in­dus­try can main­tain its cur­rent sta­tus for much longer given that nat­u­ral gas is a cheaper, cleaner and a more vi­able al­ter­na­tive to coal for power gen­er­a­tion.

The po­lit­i­cal up­heaval in the United States caused by the de­creas­ing num­ber of jobs avail­able in the min­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try might soon be some­thing In­done­sians face. These jobs are dis­ap­pear­ing and are never com­ing back – no mat­ter how hard any­one kicks and screams.

I am scared that my skills will soon be fu­tile, but not as much as I am afraid to be con­fronted with oth­ers’ frus­tra­tions when their jobs are no longer avail­able. We’ve all wit­nessed how some Blue­bird and ojek driv­ers vi­o­lently re­sponded to hav­ing their in­come threat­ened by new com­pe­ti­tion from tech­nol­ogy-based trans­porta­tion ser­vices such as Uber and GO-JEK.

I think hav­ing too many In­done­sians work­ing in un­skilled ar­eas would not only be harm­ful to the econ­omy, but could pos­si­bly cre­ate prob­lems around the coun­try. Be­ing the fourth-most pop­u­lated coun­try in the world, we face wide in­come in­equal­i­ties and I don’t think that will help us down the line.

Canada and Fin­land have started pilot stud­ies for univer­sal ba­sic in­come (UBI) as their way to deal with the poor. Al­though hand­outs are of­ten frowned upon and risky due to the high lev­els of cor­rup­tion in In­done­sia, this could be a way to help mit­i­gate the ef­fects of tech innovation on hu­man labour. Or maybe the gov­ern­ment could even im­pose taxes on the pro­duc­tion and use of ro­bots as they do to work­ers. If not, per­haps less­en­ing the skills gap should be­come a pri­or­ity by en­cour­ag­ing more stud­ies on the cre­ative arts as they are more dif­fi­cult to au­to­mate. There is im­mense creativ­ity fu­eled by rich tra­di­tions and cul­tures that should be cul­ti­vated, as well as prof­ited from, in the form of cloth­ing, food, art or per­for­mances.

The World Bank has found that mi­cro, small and medium en­ter­prises (MSME) em­ploy 89 per­cent of the pri­vate sec­tor’s work­force and con­trib­ute more than half to the coun­try’s GDP, but stum­ble upon chal­lenges when se­cur­ing fund­ing or loans. Iron­i­cally, tech­nol­ogy may be the so­lu­tion to this par­tic­u­lar is­sue.

All in all, and re­gard­less of the di­rec­tion our gov­ern­ment de­cides to take on this mat­ter, ev­ery­one should start get­ting used to change; be it in their life­style or in their work. Change, how­ever big or small, is the only way for In­done­sians to stay rel­e­vant.

“Be­ing the fourth-most pop­u­lated coun­try in the world, we face wide in­come in­equal­i­ties and I don’t think that will help us down the line.”

COUR­TESY OF AP PHOTO/ WANG DINGCHANG/ XIN­HUA

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