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The digital economy and mass unemployment
Material posted: Publication date: 24-09-2017
The main ways of development of Russia at the choice until recently there were two. Or retreat into traditionalism, while remaining an island of stability in the chaos of changing for the worse in the world, or to go forward, brutish efforts "ciprolisina" country and closely embedding in the world economy.

A hot head, of course, would like to catch at once two hares: and to completely substitute all that we get from abroad, and at the same time become the most technologically developed country on the planet. But, alas, in the modern world to develop the technology alone. As an example, China is the largest economy in the world, having ten times greater than Russia, human resources, it is still not confined to its borders, and sells and exchanges technology with the entire planet — and with Russia and with the European Union, and even with not loving the China United States.

A couple of years ago it seemed that Russia turns to the path of traditionalism. Western sanctions have strengthened our industry and agriculture though in absolute terms we are not as far from that of 2013, but imports in Russian stores was much smaller and made in Russia products — much more.

In this mode, we could stand still long enough at least 10 or even 15 years. However, in 2017, it became clear that the country still chooses the path of modernization — the curious can type in a search engine "digital economy" and see how often the term referred to the first persons of the state. For example, this week Vladimir Putin visited "Yandex" to congratulate him on his 20th anniversary, and spent a lot of time discussing with her leadership, artificial intelligence and other technological innovations.

Add to that adopted by the Kremlin personnel decisions, it will become clear that the next presidential term will pass in a mode of deep Informatization of the entire Russian economy. The bet is placed not on tradition, not on the production of pig iron and not even for the production of refrigerators and cars, and information technology.

The reason for this decision is simple: "disruptive innovation" has taken in recent years a continuous stream. Remember the story. After he invented the telephone, the Telegraph died. When invented transistors, fell sharply the demand for vacuum tubes. Cars replaced horses, digital photography has replaced film, mobile phones made useless wired phones, calculators and cheap cameras.

The social consequences of the introduction of new technologies was sometimes heavy, but used for people who lost their jobs certainly was a new job. Peasants went to work in factories, grooms — to gas stations, typists found something in the same office.

Now the situation promises to be much harder for two reasons.

First, new technologies are advancing simultaneously on many fronts. Robotic cash register, you can already see in many stores, cars with the autopilot already go on normal roads. Let's say as a possibility that these two technologies will be brought to a certain level of perfection and spread. What will happen? In Russia will remain out of work millions of drivers and cashiers.

Yes, it is a question of the future. However, today regularly come to the news about new robots, making applications for human jobs. In the largest Bank of the country are being fired accountants and lawyers. One of the main retailers in Russia gets rid of HR, and sends the robot the task of the initial interview staff. China has even shown a robot dentist, which is now able to perform operations on live patients (though he still needs a team of operators, assistants).

The second (and major) problem is that the disappearance of old jobs, this time not accompanied by the emergence of new ones. A thousand horses has created jobs for thousands of drivers, thousands of cars — for thousands of drivers. A thousand driverless cars will not need drivers at all, a thousand jobs just disappear.

Information technology is very easy massturbate. Hairdresser day to cut 20 people, and the programmer can make a program that will make daily use of 20 million people. To retrain all the unemployed in programmers will not work: the planet is the number of programmers is not necessary.

Unfortunately, mass unemployment is inevitable. And cover with our community, it may be much sooner than expected now, the skeptics. Remember how fast spread of mobile phones and the speed with which they then covered with cameras and full Internet access. Many experts believe that robotics will massively destroy jobs in the next three to five years.

This alarming forecast, Russia poses a simple choice that I outlined at the beginning of the article. Or we fence from progress and prohibit, for example, unmanned vehicles, which allows us to save jobs drivers for some time, or we make the leap to become leaders in the development and sale of new technologies.

In the short term, of course, more profitable for us freeze situation: stability is almost always better and more comfortable for all revolutions, even technological. However, long restrain technologies is impossible: they can reach us if not a year, in 20 years. To prevent the disgrace we can't, so we have no other choice but to lead.

If Russia becomes one of the main technology centers, and if it is on our territory will host developers of robots and artificial intelligence for them, the state budget will be a lot of money. The money will make the transition period a relatively comfortable society: it will be possible to lower the retirement age to 40 years, to give everyone the opportunity to get two or three free higher education, and indeed to mitigate the effects of unemployment to the maximum.

If we refuse to engage in the technological race, our economy cannot compete with China, and all existing companies will be forced to go abroad. Then, without money in Russia will be sitting all but raw oligarchs and owners of microfinance organizations. In this scenario, to soften the blow of change, we will have nothing.

I went to the round table of the St. Petersburg innovation forum, where experts discussed the situation on the labour market. Right now we have very good positions: programmers and other professionals, employers tear with hands and feet, our IT products are highly competitive on a global level.

The most valuable resource of modern Russia — the brain, a large number of smart people. If we can properly develop this resource, perhaps we have a chance to survive the coming technological revolution (and post-working future) may not be painless, but at least no critical losses.

Oleg Makarenko


Tags: Russia , economy

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