By: Maude Collins, Franklin and Marshall College
Imagine a world in which only the wealthiest will survive. They are unable to stand, addicted to screens, and reliant on robots to keep their lives comfortable. If we continue to blindly follow technology and its advances this declining pattern will determine the fate of our world. In order to deviate from this path, America needs to focus on creating opportunities to bridge its current income gap. The country needs to start educating new generations for the jobs of the future. Not the ones that are being taken over by computer systems.
In a country where technology seems to be the forefront of advancement, people need to start thinking differently. The world needs to start preparing generations for a world based around devices. The people of the United States need to be properly equipped for our evolving world where many jobs are lost to robots. While technology has brought about progress for big corporations, it is stripping many working class Americans of jobs, and contributing to the growing wealth disparity.
Technology has furthered economic growth in the U.S.; many countries are trying to replicate the “Silicon Valley” model to enhance their own economies. However, this development gives only a small majority the opportunity to thrive in this country. In fact, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management attests to this issue, “My reading of the data is that technology is the main driver of the recent increases in inequality. It’s the biggest factor.”
The main problem is that technology is replacing many blue-collar jobs. In fact, Stephen Hawking has claimed that great technological advances can leave most people “miserably poor.” Although profits are growing for the wealthy, the median income in the U.S. today is about the same of 1995, when the “tech boom” took place. Wages are not increasing for the majority of Americans. The wealthiest 10% of households have seized 76% of the country’s wealth. A number considerably higher than other developed nations. Essentially, as we get better at automating routine tasks, the people who benefit the most are those with expertise and creativity. The demand for highly skilled workers will continue to rise, while workers with less education fall dramatically behind.
We cannot stop the growth of technology. If robots are taking over many blue-collar jobs, then new generations need to be educated towards non-obsolete jobs. Without this change, an increasing amount of employment opportunities will be handed over to robots. In fact, there are now about five million fewer manufacturing jobs than there were in 2000. On the other hand, 70% of computer science majors have at least one job offer before graduating college, with a starting salary of 60,000 dollars. If our society does not focus on creating up-to-date educational programs, the divide between the poor and rich will only widen.
As a Computer Science major, this is a very controversial topic. On one hand, without advancement in the tech field I will not so easily have a career out of college. On the other, because of my privilege and college education, I will have the opportunity to thrive while the majority of Americans will not. To address this problem, I have recently gotten involved with a program called Attollocode in downtown Lancaster, PA. The goal of this after-school program is to teach inner city middle school students about computer science so they can have an opportunity to be exposed to this booming field. Without this program, many of these students would not have the fortune to explore their interest in this subject, as computer science is not required at schools. It is thanks to these programs that we can begin to fix the problem of wealth disparity. Greatly caused by the tech boom. If schools and communities can begin to offer programs such as Attollocode, the wealth disparity will lessen in the long run. Increasing amounts of young students will have the chance to pursue further education in this field, with a bountiful of career opportunities out of college.