So how might this play out with the IoT? Here are some examples how the IoT could enable new creative ventures:
- Saving energy. The data gained in IoT applications on saving energy in a million smart homes could shed new light on how to create better technology that saves energy worldwide. (And creating that technology will certainly create new job opportunities along the way.)
- Improving the worldwide food chain. IoT “smart farming” connected technologies — such as satellite/drone imagery, sensors, GPS mapping, wearable technology, algorithms and robotics — could combine to make the uncertainty and volatility of the worldwide food supply a thing of the past.
- Water supply. IoT collaborations are already underway that aim to do no less than save the world’s water. IBM and Ireland’s Dublin City University have teamed up to focus on the university’s new sensor technologies, which could potentially improve key water-quality monitoring aspects while significantly reducing costs compared to current commercial technologies.
- Healthcare. The IoT may save untold numbers of lives via wearables that issue real-time alerts for health emergencies, or sensors embedded in the body that administer medicine at precise times or even as needed based on collected data. Or what about drones that dispatch healthcare to war-torn or remote areas?
Short-term pain but long-term gain
So as we’ve seen here, technological progress results in two competing effects on employment:
As automation increases and replaces manual labor, overall employment is negatively affected as some workers must find new avenues of employment.
The “capitalization effect” positively impacts the job market as more companies enter industries where productivity is high — such as the spinning wheel example — which then leads to increased overall employment opportunities.
Nobody really contests the progress the IoT is bringing, but the old saying, “no pain, no gain,” seems to apply here as well. The challenge for society will be to avoid a situation where one group suffers all the pain, while another group takes all the gain. How to manage this balance is hopefully something we have learned from earlier revolutions.