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Lecture 20

NATS 1700 Lecture Notes - Lecture 20: Decision Analysis, Machinist, Financial Statement

Natural Science
Course Code
NATS 1700
Dov Lungu

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Computers and Employment
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution technology has been blamed for massive
In England, in 1811-12, the Luddites burned weaving looms in an effort to stop
technologies that were eliminating their jobs
oNeo-Luddites are people who strongly criticize computers and the Internet
Employment: The Optimistic View
Computers eliminate some jobs but create others
oComputer makers, designers, programmers
oChips makers
oThe introduction of the WWW created new jobs in the US: 36K in 1995, 100K in
oThe latest apps trend creates new jobs
Computers create more jobs than they destroy
Computers have not caused significant unemployment
In the 1990s the European Union was less computerized than the USA but
had a higher rate of unemployment
In the year 2000 the US population was 4 times large than in 1900. Yet,
unemployment was very low (4%)
The Upskilling Claim
Automation occurs in already routinized work situations
oThe new computer technology takes the drudge work out of information
processing, giving people more time to concentrate on conceptual and decision
making tasks
Example: Accountants learned to use spreadsheets and other programs,
and now they have more time for thinking, planning, and analysis
oComputerization results in a net increase in skills and job satisfaction
Employment: The Pessimistic View
Computers and Automations in the 1950s
Computers eliminate a much wider variety of jobs than any other single technology in the
oInformation and Communication Technology (ICT) replaces old tasks and
operations through automation
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The apps “industry” does not make up for the number of jobs destroyed by
oJobs based on information intermediation will be lost through “disintermediation”
oProduction will increase, prices will decrease but will there be more buyers?
There are more highly skilled jobs than before
Effects on job opportunities in particular industries/organizations range from
oDevastating: metal working, typesetting, bank tellers
oTo minimal: scanners in stores
Because of automation the unskilled, uneducated workers may face a lifetime of
minimum wage jobs or welfare
Technology may be helping to create an unbalanced society with two classes:
oA growing mass of poor, uneducated people and
oA shrinking class of affluent educated people
Painful periods of adjustment may be in store for many factory workers, clerical workers,
and other semiskilled and unskilled laborers
The Deskilling Claim
Information technology will strip relatively skilled jobs of their conceptual content which
becomes built into software
oExample: Computer Numerical Control (CNC) in The Machine Industry
A preprogrammed computer rather than a skilled machinist, controls the basic operation
of the machine tool that makes parts
For the machinist, the job changes from deciding on appropriate settings and manually
turning dials and levers to produce the required part, to supervision of a computer-
controlled activity
New information technologies produce a more polarized distribution of skills
oA mass of unskilled clerical or manual workers at the bottom
oA small number of "conceptual workers" at the top
Example: Software to design the electrical layout for new housing
developments can do in 0.5 hours what took a professional 100 hours to do
Polarization of Employment: Past Polarization of Employment: Present
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Abstract Tasks
The production of television programs and movies involves computer technology at
every stage of the process but there are limits…
Changing Skills
oWhen a job is transformed so that it requires less skill
oWhen jobs become more technical requiring the worker to have more skills
The Electronic Cottage
oFuturist Alvin Toffler popularized the term electronic cottage to describe a home
where technology allows a person to work at home
“Telecommuting may allow us to redefine the issues so that we’re not simply moving
people to work but also moving work to people.” - Booth Gardner, former Washington
Employees work away from a company's standard workplace
oEnabled by telecommunications: telephone, computer, fax
The case for:
oReduces the number of automobile commuters, thus saving energy, reducing
pollution, and decreasing congestion
oSaves corporations’ rental expenses
oSaves travel time
oAllows for a more flexible schedule
oCan increase productivity
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