Opinion: Technology innovation can create jobs


the past several years, the job market has been a rough place. The
stock market crash, and the resulting economic slump, threw a wrench
into the gears of almost every industry.

While the situation is
improving, many people still struggle to find good work, and will
likely continue to struggle for some time. The harsh truth is
that a lot of the jobs that helped form the backbone of our economy
are gone. And they aren’t coming back.

This sort of thing has been happening for a long time, in one form or another. For decades, manufacturing jobs have been shifting to other countries, where the standards of living are lower and the cost of labor is cheaper. It’s been a stumbling block for economic growth in the United States, and there have been near-constant calls for someone to do something about it. But not only is there little that can actually be done about the situation, but we may be better off not trying.

Economic realities are what have led to many of these migrations. It’s simply more expensive to employ people from the United States to fill those jobs. Giving companies more money, either in the form of subsidies or higher prices, to try and reverse the trend only prolongs an unhealthy relationship. And it is unhealthy, because at this point, we shouldn’t really want to keep those jobs. Instead, we should be upgrading them with technological innovations.

Right now, computers are radically altering how we go about our lives. Devices like smartphones put what not-so-long-ago would have been the power of a supercomputer at your literal fingertips. Online social networking, which is still a relatively new thing, has transformed the entire idea of social interaction in only a few years. Reflecting on just the last ten years, it seems the changes the future has in store are limitless.

The possibilities of our technology are astounding, and we need to invest in it. Whole industries have risen in the wake of the Internet becoming mainstream. Companies like Amazon are reinventing retail, while Youtube, Netflix, Hulu and others represent the evolution of video entertainment. With the internet, even a small company can reach a mind boggling audience. And that doesn’t include the infrastructure and support employed to keep it all running. The opportunities the Internet offers for virtually every industry cannot be overstated.

Unfortunately, the reality is that not everyone can take advantage of these opportunities. It will be some time yet for advances in technology to permeate the whole of our society. Our infrastructure is struggling to keep up with demand, and access to it represents a luxury for some. But, unlike the barriers that encourage companies to shift jobs away from the United States, these are realities that we can change. We can take steps to improve access to the Internet, and lower the barriers of entry for people currently unable to do so.

The job market is still a rough place. And it’s probably going to stay that way for a while. But we can take a step in the right direction by encouraging growth in new industries, and modernizing those which can benefit from the new possibilities offered by technology. By doing this, we can take steps to change the dynamic from “who can do work the cheapest” to “who can do work the best.”