Do not think life is easy for young people today!

January 14, 2016

Let me be frank. Life for the young entering the job market these days is exceptionally bleak. Salaries are nowhere near where they used to be…wages aren’t keeping pace with the cost of living…..it’s conceivable, if one takes out a study loan these days, it pays out such a lousy ROI, it’s best to give tertiary education a miss….and even if you have a degree, so what? Everyone these days is a graduate….and things will get bleaker!

Whereas during my generation – I know we had it much easier.

As during the 20th century the business model was very employee centric -companies that brought in the most money also employed the most people.

For example, in 1962 General Motors was one of the top five companies by market capitalization and employed more than half a million workers. In fact, four out of the five most highly capitalized companies that year employed more than 100,000 people each. The fifth, IBM, had over 80,000. But the 21st century has seen a reversal of that pattern. By 2012, only one of the five largest companies by market capitalization (Walmart) employed more than 100,000 people, and it had way more—2.2 million. The other four—Apple, Google, Exxon, and Microsoft—had a combined total of just 300,000.

But today things are very different. It’s conceivable mankind is already entering the age of the ghost company – that doesn’t need to employ many people, yet it’s capable of growing along with fulfilling all the criteria of market demand.

This may be great news for people who buy the stocks of these firms. But it’s as good as dropping an atomic bomb on the middle class.

After years of high unemployment and persistent underemployment, job creation—especially of full-time, adequate-wage jobs—is critical.

With the advent of this digital laced business model – it’s conceivable there will be less jobs in the future.

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‘I am probably from the last or maybe second last generation where if a man works hard and doesn’t make too many silly mistakes – then everything would take care of itself and fall into it’s rightful place….that could well explain, why I still haven’t amounted to very much as well. But I digress…

These days, I am not saying La Dolce Vita model is not as self assured, confident and robust as it used to be…..what I am saying is it has been well and truly satayed (spit roasted) and vaporized!

It’s gone!

There are many reasons why things have changed…..why so many set pieces that were once regarded as timeless and universal has all but disappeared. We can of course list out all the causal factors, drivers and preponderant events like bullet points…..but I will leave that part to you to ferret the WHY’s yourself.

Only understand this! This trend is irreversible…we are not talking about some distant dystopia future like watching a sci fi movie where everyone jumps into flying cars. This is not an AKAN DATANG! (Coming Soon!) thingy….it’s already bloody here! Full frontal in your face!

For over three thousand years of recorded history, mankind has taken refuge in the irrevocable belief humanity itself is the greatest fortress that machines can never hope to conquer. This goes all the way back to the invention of the printing press.

And today it is no different either – if you ask your friends will machines take over humanity…..they would probably snigger behind your back and say you watch too many sci fi movies. That is because deep down, we believe people’s capacity for compassion, deep understanding, and creativity are inimitable.

These are things that machines cannot do! But you know what? Machines don’t need to do all that to take your job!

And the really scary thing is this…because they are free from the emotional baggage of humanity, they can actually do a better job than humans!

A human pilot can hear voices. But a computer that flies a plane or will drive you along the ECP one day is incapable of human error precisely because it is free from all the variables of the human condition.

I have no doubt whatsoever machines will overtake us – I don’t believe in the crumbly idea humanity is necessarily a fortress that machines cannot overcome!

As most jobs out there in the world – don’t nearly require you to be creative or for that matter even dexterous at using your brain – they simply don’t….if most jobs require exclusively high performance human brain power – why is it, when you phone up a government agency in Singapore, you end up having a conversation with a machine…and when the machine ask you whether, you want to speak to a person and that connection is made…how do you account for the phenomenon, that civil servant whose humans responses exactly like a machine….the only reason why humanity likes to believe we can never be replaced by machines is because it makes us feel important and of course it’s incredibly edifying to believe – we are special! And irreplaceable.

But that sadly is not the truth….as technology is changing the very way we live, work and play and these shifts are often violent and precipitous like how The uber app is displacing the taxi uncle who drives a comfort cab.

And it’s so clever that it even render many of the set pieces we take for granted obsolete over night…it’s happening even as we speak….it’s not just happening to physical stores…it’s happening to everything from how you book a holiday to hotels….and it will continue to happen…I am not saying machines and their cousins, apps and software will take over the world…they don’t need to be able to do all the things we can do 100% to displace humanity – to render us museum artifacts in the history wing alongside the Dodo bird…all they need to do is 50% of what we do! That’s 20% more than what’s necessary to destroy the value chain and renders any business model that relies heavily on mankind a pretty lousy business proposition.

I don’t believe for one moment. I am being audacious in my projections. If anything it’s a highly conservative estimation of how things will turn out – as to be quite honest with you….most jobs out there require the same processing power as tying up your shoe laces…now you know why politicians all come across as people who read the same book or share a common program..even when they keep reminding people, they are actually working really hard to make a better tomorrow for you and your family…..this lends credence to the reversa of the Turing test viz-a-viz when you cannot tell the person from a machine, then it must be a machine. A derivative of that idea presupposes, being brainwashed into believing nonsense is also a form of computerization – so when I use the term, ‘machine’ this does not necessarily exclude humans per se!

Truth of the matter is machines will overcome humanity at some point – we like to take comfort in the idea….they (the machines) can never be like us….we lull ourselves into a false sense of confidence by proclaiming proudly – we are alive…….they’re just a facsimile of life…..we are real….they are faker than fake! We have a heart…they only make do with circuitry….

But we don’t nearly give machines the credit, they rightly deserve.

As when one considers how in such a short period of time they have whirled their ways into our life and changed every aspect of how we relate to ourselves and others along with altering every facet of life, work and play ….I don’t believe for one moment computers are unable to encroach further on other areas previously considered the human preserve.’

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