There was a time… a time laid back enough to effort the luxury of duplication/ triplication of jobs in the corporate houses! The Hujur class (Top brass) had the privilege to have a “Steno” even in the ‘90s of the last century!
This position, the “Steno” (Stenographers), used to take dictation from the Hujur, type it and submit it to him (mostly) as “Draft”. The top brass used to correct it and send it back to her (mostly it was a SHE) for retyping. To smoothen this back and forth the procedure, the shorthand was introduced as a subject in Higher Secondary Commerce! Up to mid-‘90s, all went fine…
However, then came the computers! And the Hujur class, being the most privileged ones, started opting for these expensive Type-writers with a TV option, mainly to show off the affordability and the class they belong to! The file cladded tables started having a monitor beside the files. Still the stenos survived… till Bill pulled the trigger! Gates opened the Windows of the air-conditioned rooms and compelled the Hujurs to be self-reliant. The fax machines were replaced with internet connectivity.
The meteorite-shower and the ice age jointly caused the extinction of the dinosaurs; computers and the internet connectivity not only made the smart and pretty stenos extinct but also fax machines! The position- stenographers were made extinct but persons! Those who could adapt with the changes could familiarize themselves with the new “Typing Machines” were able to place them as personal secretary a few took shelter in administration, and the very few luckiest, with the blessings of their boss joined Human Resources to establish themselves as the cockroaches of the corporate world!
Not nostalgia at all, actually the fact is the question the ICT minister of Bhutan raised, a logical connotation raised by the representative of the people of Bhutan during the Ministerial Conference of Digital World on December 7, 2017 – Would the 4IR increase the unemployment rate across the globe? A question often raised in HR conferences, a concern often discussed in the panel discussions and compelled me to address in a couple of my keynotes.
Bangladesh was not prepared as I guessed, and I guessed it wrong! The hyper sell of the ORIGIN of Dan Brown and the popularity of SOPHIA, the robot, and the interest was shown by Bangladeshis in the social media made us believe- the time has come… Before addressing the concern raised by the minister of Bhutan let first look into industrial revolutions. The First Industrial Revolution started with the invention of the steam engine that transformed the manual manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840.
The Second Industrial Revolution, also known as the Technological Revolution, was a phase of rapid industrialization in the final third of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. The key power source in this was electricity. Up to the second, the Reich was acceptable but the 3rd one brought the disaster! Similarly, the hell broke loose from the Third Industrial Revolution! As the Third Industrial Revolution derived from the concept of resource constraint and with a focus to cost optimization thus ended up in automation that disengaged a lot of people around the world.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) often called as 4.0 actually a second or advanced phase of the third industrial revolution, where the automation is being sharpened with Artificial Intelligence (AI) through machine learning.
AI is not the only pillar of 4IR rather one of the third, and the other 2 are a) Connectivity, i.e. cyber connectivity, and b) Human-Machine Interface. If any of the 3 components are removed or eradicated the 4IR shall remain incomplete and the overall concept shall collapse.
SOPHIA could be the ideal example of the scenario. When SOPHIA says, I came to know that indicates SOPHIA gathered the information from the net. However, the searching process was dictated by human beings. That’s why when the presenter from the Jamuna TV asked SOPHIA about her favorite color SOPHIA failed to answer as there was no input regarding such question as given. The Human-Machine Interface was missing!
Dan Brown’s WINSTON is still a Sci-fi character. Nice to have but yet to have… Even in the case of WINSTON, Edmond played a vital role. Brown knew it well and named this as Synthetic Intelligence to distinct it from Artificial Intelligence to avoid further confusion.
The other pillar, cyber connectivity! We, as a world, is far behind than the minimal requirement. As a result, there won’t be any immediate impact of 4IR on the job market. However, there is an impact in the long run. Since the 4IR cannot skip the human-machine interface, people who can adapt to the technology would survive the long term impact. On the contrary, the effect of 5IR cannot be presumed as the development pace of technology cannot be fathomed.
However, certainly, a few of the positions will be STENOFIED due to automation and connectivity… Like the tellers due to ATMs. But the persons could sustain like the stenos did, in different roles like relationship managers or such…
Actually, we all are to come out of our comfort zones and get rid of the Galápagos’ syndrome and develop ourselves continuously. The 4.0 may not create the dent suspected, but the 5IR would put into the primitive context- Survival of the fittest. And the competition would be between Man & the Machines…
Let the Machines rise but the Man has to climb higher or else will get STENOFIED!
About The Author
Ajeyo Rohitashwo Al Quazi
Group Chief People Officer (GCPO) aamra companies
Ajeyo Rohitashwo Al Quazi was first enlisted into the “Top 50 Most Talented Human Resources Leaders” in 2014 by CHRO. Malaysian Institute of Human Resources Management enlisted Ajeyo as one of the “Top 50 HR Thought Leaders” in 2017. Ranked #1 in the list of “100 Most Influential Global HR Professionals“.