Where IT Employment is Going

When forms of communication change, the foundations of a society change. Communication and coordination techniques determine the way in which people can connect and develop their skills.

 

Our definition of work today as spatially and temporally determined employment. This development began with the invention of printing, the printed texts were the first serial products. Moreover, over the centuries, information and communication technology has been accompanied by society and, as a result, its functioning in some areas

 

Not just “work N.0”

One problem with all of this is the fact that the contemporaries of such upheavals remain for a long time stuck in old patterns of thought, values and categories, and therefore can not at first recognize the nature of the changes. Significant are the many observable attempts to hold on to traditional concepts and categories such as working hours, place of work, work performance and workplace and to consider “Work N.0” merely as a further development of “Work M.0”.

 

This stubborn dominance of our thinking influenced by industrial society is reminiscent of the monks who, 50 years after the invention of the printing press, corrected every single printed copy because they were at first unable to understand some of the effects of the new technique. It is quite possible that later generations will also be amused by our current understanding of Internet effects.

 

In any case, it is beyond dispute that the world of work is currently shaken up with great force. And this is not even about “artificial intelligence” (AI) in the sense of independently thinking (and perhaps also feeling) machines such as the supercomputer HAL 9000 in the science fiction classic “2001 Odyssey in space”, which is then malignant turns against people. When (and if) there will be really creative machines is unknown. However, machines are already doing repetitive work. And by incorporating computer chips and software, factory robots as well as home appliances can be made adaptive. This “Internet of Things” is not just about the famous refrigerator, which re-orders its own milk, but also about the networking of entire production processes, from raw material supply, through production and sales, to maintenance and recycling.

 

While on the one hand the production of large series becomes more and more efficient, on the other 3D printers make it possible to produce single pieces quickly and everywhere.

 

Out for cheap pay. As a result of this development, production facilities in the low-wage countries of the global South will “come under pressure”, warns Ayad Al-Ani from the Berlin Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, who demands at the same time: “Digitalization must be thought globally”. A prime example is the German company Adidas. The sporting goods giant is currently building a “speed factory” in Ansbach near Nuremberg, where industrial robots made of yarn and plastic produce sneakers. From (often changing) design to delivery to the store, it will only take a few days. Soon, 500,000 pairs are expected to run off the production line each year. The factory will employ 160 people and above all control the machines. In the future, high-priced, individualized models could be custom-made on 3D printers directly in the store for customers.

 

In the u.a. The sneakers are currently made by 1,000 workers and above all by hand – 300 million pairs per year – in Adidas’ China-based and Vietnam-based supplier factories. Adidas states that their speedfactories (which are also to be built in the US) are intended to supplement previous production. However, Asian suppliers continued to strike for higher wages and better working conditions. For the British magazine “The Economist” it is clear that at Adidas “the need for armies of manual laborers in Asian factories will surely decrease”.