Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

We read that the president is so taken with the possibilities of the fourth industrial evolution that he has created yet another commission to ensure SA benefits from it. My reaction is: “Brace yourself, Cyril”.

If we see all the developments that are being raved about, SA will experience the biggest rise in unemployment yet, and this will be accompanied by social unrest on a scale not even considered up to now. The reality is likely to be that more automation will require fewer and fewer workers.

Yes, we hear that everybody will become a coder, but as a former director of an information company for more than 50 years I can tell you the vast majority of the population do not want to code, or are not suited to being coders. In any case, the likelihood is that there will be an increase in the use of ready developed packages and apps for the young, and these do not require coders. In fact, once up and running they rarely need significant staff to manage them.

It is a fact that automated factories don’t need people. We can never forget that we have a large unemployed population who will need money. Social grants eventually stimulate the economy but need to be funded, and the large number of people who can’t or don’t work will also need to be entertained. Burning books, tyres, libraries and municipal structures may well be more exciting than sitting around idle.

Our whole social order will need to be addressed and taxes raised to fund the increased number of people without any possible source of income. This is a worldwide problem, so we can’t even encourage people to leave. Brace yourself.

Henry Watermeyer