San Francisco Bay Area Indian Community - SFIndian.com
| | |
 


 

The government failed U.S. workers on global trade. It must do better on technology.

Career
Author : Vivek Wadhwa
Add To My Favorite
Share With Your Friends



shutterstock_120206509Co-authored with Edward Alden of Council on Foreign Affairs

Global trade and investment have been great engines of progress for much of the world. Over the past two decades, poorer countries reduced the gap between themselves and their richer counterparts for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, in no small part because of the opportunities opened by global trade. Technology has the same transformative potential in industries as varied as energy, health care, transportation and education. New inventions that are imminent or already here could transform the lives of billions of peoplefor the better.

Yet, as we seein the 2016 U.S. election campaign, and as we have seen in Europe and elsewhere, rapid change has a dark side. If too many people are unable to adapt quickly and successfully to these changes, they will push back blaming trade or immigrants or the elites and demand a reversion to a simpler time.

The task of governments is to help people manage these transformations so that they benefit many and do as little harm as possible. In the United States, governments mostly failed at that task during the era of globalization; if the full benefits of the coming technologies are to be enjoyed, governments will have to do much better this time around.

The competitive pressures create by globalization should have been no surprise. About 45 years ago, President Richard Nixons top international economic adviser, Pete Peterson, warned him that rising competition from Japan and Germany, with much more on the way, poses adjustment policy which simply cannot be ignored.

Americans have unquestionably gained by the lower prices and higher quality that import competition enabled. Apple iPhones and the latest Boeing jets are the result of the collective input of tens of thousands of collaborators in dozens of countries around the world. But many lost well-paid manufacturing jobs to import competition or outsourcing, andthe U.S. government has madelittle effort to mitigate those costs, even in worker retraining.

President John F. Kennedy promised in 1962 that the government would help American workers who lost out to trade competition as the United States lowered its barriers to imports. When considerations of national policy make it desirable to avoid higher tariffs, those injured by the competition should not be required to bear the full brunt of the impact, he said. But today, the United States spends asmaller proportion of its wealth on worker retrainingthan any of the other 34 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development except for Mexico and Chile.

Too often, the attitude of the U.S. government has been deeply irresponsible, assuming that markets would simply sort everything out for the best. In the long run, everybody may end up with work and income, but in the short run, as Peterson told Nixon, the failure to help Americans adapt to the new reality will leave long periods when the transition is painful beyond endurance.

With technology change, too, we know well in advance exactly what is coming. Driverless technology, for example, will soon become the standard in the trucking industry.Driverless trucks can run 24 hours a dayand wont demand overtime pay. There are 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States, and an additional 5.5 million jobs in related industries roughly one in every 15 American workers. They could perhaps go to work for UPS or deliver pizzas, but many of those delivery jobs will be lost to drones.

Personal-care robots will increasingly replace home health-care aides, and self-checkout machines are already replacing retail-store clerks; these are jobs that filled some of the gap left by the disappearance of manufacturing jobs to global competition, but they, too, will soon be under siege. Automation is even hitting law and education, two sectors long thought immune to technological substitution.

These vulnerabilities necessitate something that too often was absent in the era of globalization: good public policies. Artificial intelligence will transform teaching, for example, but without access to the highest-speed broadband,students in poor and rural areas willfall further behind their urban counterparts. And unless we strengthen social safety nets and retraining schemes, there will be far too many losers in the labor market. There is no way to avoid the huge impact that technology will have on employment; we have to prepare for it and help those whose skills it antiquates.

Much more even than globalization, technology is going tocreate upheaval and destroy industries and jobs. This can be for the better, helping us create new and more interesting jobs or freeing up time for leisure and artistic pursuits. But unless we find ways to share the prosperity and help Americans adapt to the coming changes, many could be left worse off than they are. And, as we have seen this year, that is a recipe for an angry backlashand political upheaval.

Edward Alden is senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author ofFailure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy.

Link to article on Washington Post’s website


About Author
Vivek Wadhwa is Vice President of Innovation and Research at Singularity University; Fellow, Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance, Stanford University; Director of Research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at the Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University; and distinguished visiting scholar, Halle Institute of Global Learning, Emory University. He is author of ”The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent”–which was named by The Economist as a Book of the Year of 2012.

Wadhwa oversees the academic programs at Singularity University, which educates a select group of leaders about the exponentially growing technologies that are soon going to change our world. These advances—in fields such as robotics, A.I., computing, synthetic biology, 3D printing, medicine, and nanomaterials—are making it possible for small teams to do what was once possible only for governments and large corporations to do: solve the grand challenges in education, water, food, shelter, health, and security.

Website: http://wadhwa.com/2016/11/03/the-government-failed-u-s-workers-on-global-trade-it-must-do-better-on-technology/

 

Disclaimer: Please use this channel at your own discretion. These articles are contributed by our users. We are not responsible or liable for any problems related to the utilization of information of these articles.

 

View All Contributions

Post an Article
Notify Me of New Articles

Become A Featured Contributor
Add Your Blog | Add Recipe | Add Article

More Article by Vivek Wadhwa

What the U.S. can learn from Indias move toward a cashless society
Why 2017 is the year of the bot
What Stephen Hawking gets right and wrong about the most dangerous time for our planet
These 6 new technology rules will govern our future
Fake news is just the beginning
View All Articles

Featured Contributors


Christine Dunbar

Vivek Wadhwa

Aayushi Manish
Aayushi Manish

Darshan Goswami

Shruti Sadolkar

Ananya Kiran
Ananya Kiran

Vasudha Sharma

Tahmina Watson

Rima Arora
Rima Arora

Latest Articles

Actor Mukesh J Bharti and Producer Manju Bharti won Midday International Icon Award 2022 held at Dubai by Staff
Actor Vivek Dahiya Samiksha Batnagar Rakesh Bedi & Zakir Hussain have started shooting of Mera Baap Kaun Hai ? directed by Sa by Staff
Mandakini Starrer Maa O Maa first look poster out directed by Sajan Agarwal by Staff
Actress NikitaRawal, Aashtha Rawal & Satyamvada Singh inaugurates Artist Inderjeet GroverArt Exibition Journey by Staff
Nikita Dobriyal and dashing star Jeet Rai Dutt's romantic song "Bann key Baarish" released by Staff
View All Articles