It is not a question of ‘if’ but one of ‘when’ advancing technologies result in significant unemployment. So, the inevitable question…’what will the over 10 billion of us be doing?’ if the bulk of the work is automated, or done by machines? The answers you get range from….’Well, I have been hearing about this for a long time, nothing will change’ to, at the other extreme, ‘Utter chaos and a nightmare’

It is undeniable that the pace of automation around us is increasing rapidly, from simple things like Alexa and Siri responding to voice commands, Google completing our email sentences, and Chrome feeding us ads ‘hearing’ a conversation with a friend…to complicated things like apps reading MRIs and scans to perform disease diagnosis better the best experts. Debates of the timing, ethics, and extent of automation aside, it is only logical that this acceleration will result in loss of jobs.

The way the world can respond to this possible increase unemployment is by:

1. Ensuring that we train the population is skills that will be relevant in the future
2.Providing some type of universal basic income to all citizens to ensure that people have livelihoods
3.Enabling mechanisms for self-employment and on-demand employment. Increased focus on services in the arts, culture, entertainment

With the above, some profound questions become relevant:

1.‘Who’ does the work? Are they an employee, or a freelancer?
2.Why’ does someone do the work? Is it because they want to earn a living or simply for self-actualization?
3.‘Where’ is the work done from? A physical office or somewhere in a different part of the world,
4.‘How’ is the work integrated when coming from different freelance experts or a combination of freelancers and employees?
5.‘Who’ identifies and helps develop skills of the future in the wider population?

With #Covid19 and the associated lockdowns, the business world was challenged with some of the questions above. Businesses responded to Q #3 by embracing #workfromhome. Ubiquitous high-speed broadband, supported by an explosion of video communication apps allowed #remotework to be relatively successful. This success, has made businesses to now ask Q#1, and why they need people working from anywhere as full-time employees.

In addition, business disruption driven by Covid has aggravated income disparities. Large on-line platform companies are growing exponentially at the cost of small and medium businesses. Income gaps between the rich and poor are widening at an increasing pace. Even disparities in vaccine administration amongst counties is highlighting this divergence. It is clear that this is just the beginning and global ecosystem will have to devise holistic solutions for the future.

For our part, we at I2I, as a responsible business, we want to create ethical and social value in addition to material and economic value. This essence is strongly captured in our tag line of ‘distributing future evenly’ and our values of Diversity, and Empathy. Further, we incorporate the following into our operating and business model:

1.Empowering talent in smaller towns, investing in future skills development, and creating employment opportunities in small towns themselves
2.Collaborating with educational and skilling institutions in smaller towns to help update their curriculum and direct them towards future skills
3. Operate our company as a professional network rather than one with static hierarchies
4.Investing in platform for skills mapping, tracking, and development
5.Developing platform that help self-employed skilled talent to offer services in an on-demand fashion

These tenets help us contribute towards developing a resilient and equitable world.