As I See It

Technology gains must be widely shared

Terry smiling headIt’s a big week for Scottish technology, with a major investor event bringing together some of the country’s rising stars and willing investors, although it comes amid a warning that there is a downside to the advance of new ideas.

Progress in a range of disciplines, notably data analytics, artificial intelligence and robotics is changing the way we live. Innovation matched with investment – the purpose of Thursday’s EIE event led by Informatics Ventures –  is redefining how customers interact with business, most clearly in financial services.

It is creating new types of work and will create yet more that we have not yet heard of.

It is also a potential jobs destroyer, as today’s report from the STUC and Scottish Government confirms.

The probability of FinTech especially leading to fewer rather than more jobs is not new, but this paper does spell out the need for caution amid the frenzy of excitement surrounding the growth of the tech sector.

FinTech is at an early stage of development, along with its sister phenomena InsurTech, TravelTech….there is a technology for every sector now.

It will revolutionise the world of work, removing the drudgery of some repetitive and routine tasks. That frees up people to undertake more imaginative and creative roles, improving the service and their own wellbeing in the workplace.

The concern is that, like the first revolution, it will remove swathes of human labour and create a new social problem. Companies inevitably will be driven to take up new technologies if it cuts their costs by removing a wage.

The STUC is taking a sensibly balanced approach to this upheaval in working patterns, resisting the temptation to cause disruption, and accepting that innovation cannot, and should not, be halted and that there will be positive outcomes from the changes taking place.

Instead it calls for workers to play a part in helping to manage the process and that should help ensure the benefits are shared by all.


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