The Internet will disappear 32



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The Internet has been with us in its truest form for only 20 years, yet it has changed everything for everyone!  And now, the boss of Google, Erci Schmidt says it is going to “disappear” it has been so pervasive.  And it got me thinking about just how much change our over 60s have seen at the hands of the Internet and what you think of it.

“The internet will soon be so pervasive in every facet of our lives that it will effectively “disappear” into the background,” Schmidt said to world leaders at Davos in Switzerland on Saturday.  “There will be so many sensors, so many devices, that you won’t even sense it, it will be all around you.”

“It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room and… you are interacting with all the things going on in that room.”

“A highly personalised, highly interactive and very interesting world emerges.”

He was invited to speak at the World Economic Leaders Forum on a panel of the world’s biggest technology leaders, with the goal of allaying fears that the technological advancement of the Internet and the change it is creating is killing jobs.

“Everyone’s worried about jobs,” said the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg.

It is a terrifying thought, when we stop to consider it, that because of the extreme change of the last 20 years, some say will be remembered as the technological revolution of the world, we are now more productive as a race.  But we have to stop and wonder whether it is at the cost of our own growth and community wealth? Would people have been better off without technology making us more connected, more efficient and more intelligent as a race?

Companies like Google are believed to be contributing to the global economy at a value of more than $200 billion according to Deloitte, and Schmidt says that every tech job creates seven more in the other areas of the economy.

Most people here in Starts at 60 will be able to reflect on the change to the operations of businesses with more experience and insight than I can, and attest to whether the introduction of technology enabled the businesses to grow or whether it just did people out of jobs making them more profitable.  And each person will indeed have their own opinion on which is more important.  Profitable businesses usually invest more in capital and staffing as they succeed – did the companies you were working in as technology ripped through the world employ more people with different skills or did they just decrease their staffing?

When the Internet arrived in businesses I worked in, the first small capabilities were largely rejected as risky forms of communications, unreliable and easy to lose.  It took years for it to gain credence, but once it did, my first job as a trainee stockbroker became virtually redundant.  eTrading took over the stockmarket within three years of its introduction and many of the stockbroking companies of the eighties and nineties disappeared.  Other jobs replaced them in head offices of electronic trading companies in large capital cities, but the personal touch of a local broker was no longer required or desired because of the competitive pricing and instant information offered by Internet applications.

There has been significant debate at Davos about whether the Internet has in fact enabled the world to better share the spoils of the technology economy or whether it has drawn the spoils for the few who lead the industry’s growth.  Leaders like Sandberg insisted that the Internet has enabled more people to share the wealth and opportunity through greater connectedness.  Others in the community might argue that only those with deep pockets can make big money out of the Internet.

“Now everyone has a voice… now everyone can post, everyone can share and that gives a voice to people who have historically not had it,” Sandberg said.

But as the sharing economy has unfolded, people who previously couldn’t make a living working in the media now can through their own entrepreneurship.  We are seeing Youtubers making millions a year, and bloggers building up a comfortable income over time.

But is it fairly enough spread?  If we look back, this is not the first time that rapid change changed the way people worked and used resources.  When tractors and motor vehicles were introduced, people who worked on farms manually were replaced by machinery.  Those people were forced to retrain into drivers and enablers of a different kind.  Is it reasonable to believe that the morphing of the world due to the Internet is still underway as people who previously were needed in roles that are now done by computers and live communications capability now have to reposition themselves in the new economy.

Eric Schmidt says, “I’m optimistic, there’s no question. If you are in the tech business, you have to be optimistic. Ultimately to me, it’s about human capital. Tech empowers humans to do great things.”

It leaves a lot of questions I want to throw at you today.  How did the Internet affect your career?  Have you ever lost a job, or seen an industry you work in change significantly?  Did it create opportunity for you in your life and empower you to do great things?  Share your stories.

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. All technology has made jobs disappear, as each advancement comes another job is lost, we all remember an era where there we far more jobs, banks had tellers who served us with a smile, they have replaced with teller machines, service stations had petrol pump attendants who filled our cars, supermarkets had checkout chicks (they are being replaced by machines) and packers who packed our groceries into bags for us, the milk man and the baker who delivered to us in horse and cart are long gone and that is only a few instances of many

    1 REPLY
    • I think some jobs have gone – but an awful lot have been developed just to keep the programs running – on-line stores need somewhere to store stuff, someone to take the orders, find the items, dispatch the orders and a postal worker to deliver the order (or a driver and van if it is courier). Think of all the office workers who wouldn’t have a job without the internet, companies that wouldn’t be known without Google to help them be found. I think it all balances out …..

  2. had a bit of a giggle at work. Don’t you hate people who email their work mate right next to them? I did for a laugh! His reaction was hilarious!

  3. If you read the article it doesn’t mean that the Internet will disappear as in “cease to exist” … it means the Internet will blend into the background to the extent that we just won’t notice it’s there.
    What the heck this has to do with jobs disappearing beats me.

    4 REPLY
    • Shop fronts are closing, it is far cheaper for shop owners to sell on the Internet than to pay high rents and employ staff..that is one instance

    • Technology has resulted in less need for man power. Leanna Stephenson’s examples are but a few, She is correct.

    • My entire career has been in technology and thirty years ago they were telling us about the “paperless office”.
      I’m still waiting … 🙂

    • And when has our world not been changing? its just that modern technology has speeded up the changes and its really a matter of politics and economics how the technology gets used and who benefits.

  4. I love modern technology.
    Where would we be without it. If you are over 60 there is a very good chance you have benefited from modern technology. Operations and medicines that were not available 30 years ago are keeping us alive and active today. Cars are safer, food is more plentiful and for the most part healthier. We are living longer and enjoying life.
    We wouldn’t be able to access things like this thread. Travel is safer and cheaper and we can keep in contact with far away relatives at the flick of a switch. Unemployment is around 7% which is fairly low when you think that only 7 out of every 100 eligible working people can not find jobs.

    3 REPLY
    • Too bad hey, if you’re one of those 7 and over 60 when you lose your job. Ageism is alive and well!

    • Helen
      Why don’t you set an example and give up all your modern technology so someone can have a job!!!!

    • the capabilities of being interconnected globally have hardly been tapped yet! I wish i had another lifetime to really use this technology creatively!

  5. yes. In the banking industry my job was outsourced to India, cost effective for bank, they do work and send documents electronically back to Aus for printing etc

  6. Whn jobs are lost to new technology, other jobs are created by innovative people. This of course is great, but when jobs are simply outsourced to other coutries in the name of profit for mainly big companies, I don’t see this as being helpful to the countries that have lost the jobs.

  7. I can remember when I was working in the public service in the 60’s as a file clerk and all my work was done manually on cards. When I finally applied for training with the Defence Department, I was trained on a manual Olivetti typewriter. Once I was placed in a data entry position, I was using a Friden Flexowriter and an ICL/ICT card punch machine, which required one to punch paper and card programs for repetitive work. Also you had to be adept at doing the same with large program boards in the newer card punch machines. Then I graduated to IBM ball word processors, magnetic tapes and cassettes which were painful. I have used many, many types of data entry equipment and I now thank goodness for modern technology. I have been away from office jobs for years now but I find if one does not update and do courses, office jobs are much harder to get into to. Plus age doesn’t help. I was always a fan of Dick Tracy comics in the 60’s and he used to have a watch communication device which was just fantastic. Look at all the electronic stuff now. Amazing.

  8. Oh yes. Everything is changing. No idea where my boys will end up working. I hope its good for them

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