How boosting small businesses will help soften disruptive effect of machines
Artisanal firms need more support to create jobs and boost economies in the face of automation
In the award-winning book Rise of the Robots, futurist Martin Ford argues that automation will lead to widespread job losses, not only in the traditional blue-collar sectors, but also among white-collar workers. Conventional production chains and large industries have indeed invested massively in automation in the past few years. A study by McKinsey shows that many companies recovering from the 2008 financial crisis have replaced retrenched workers with machines, thus leading to "jobless" recoveries. According to Oxford University, no less than 50% of all jobs will be lost in US and Europe in the next two decades due to the rise of automation and artificial intelligence. In China, investment in automation is unprecedented, with leading companies such as Foxconn, which produces iconic gadgets such as the iPhone, having replaced more than 60,000 workers with robots. In SA, too, we have begun to see the effects of automation in traditional sectors such as mining, which – coupled with p...