The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently released it’s 2017 risk report on the possible dangers of new technology. As the world begins the verge into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and new technology is emerging at an ever increasing rate, it’s important to consider the inherent risks associated with these new forms of technology.
It’s important to consider the inherent risks associated with these new forms of technology.
While it’s true that new tech, if not governed properly, can cause some considerable harm on a geopolitical scale, there are also some significant advancements that are both useful, as well as necessary for success in invaluable global functions, such as freight delivery and supply chain management. Given that humanity relies on the commercial and domestic goods that are being delivered through these supply chains, it’s important to understand what it is that the WEF fears could happen from the new technology.
One of the 12 key emerging technologies on the WEF risk list, is the development of artificial intelligence and robotics. The key cause of concern is that as robots become more proficient in performing labor oriented tasks, the needs for human laborers will begin to drop. As economic stability hinges on the general populace being employed, the utilization of a robotic workforce could present some concern for the future. However, we must also look at the other side of the coin in this matter.
The needs for human laborers will begin to drop.
With the implementation of robotics in a manufacturing setting, there is a considerable reduction of risk to human life. This is especially true when it comes to more dangerous manufacturing processes. Not only are robotics able to increase production values at a safer rate than humans, there is also the need for maintenance and governance over these machines. In short, while the work force might be displaced from the production floor, it is possible for them to be retrained to employ a different skill set. Additionally, the increased profitability from efficiency boosts can create more possibilities for growth, expansion, and better pay for the adaptation to new skill sets for workers.
It is possible for them to be retrained to employ a different skill set.
“Technology not only addressed disruptive threats to business and improved service quality and productivity, it also improved workplace conditions,” said a DHL spokesman during an interview with The Loadstar. “At the same time, our workforce has grown over the last five years, from 471,654 employees in 2011 to 497,745 in 2015,” he said. “Our chief executive stated in interviews last year that our workforce could grow to 600,000 by 2020 on the back of online retail driving further growth in parcel delivery,” he added.
Governing The Growth
By and large, one of the biggest concerns that WEF has with the rate of new technologies, is how they are to be governed. On one hand, overly strict regulations can stifle progress and therefore stifle the potential benefits gained from utilizing this new technology. On the other hand, if there is a lack of governance, new technology can fall into misuse, leading to a public discreditation of the technology and make potential investors nervous. WEF uses self-driving vehicles as an example, “autonomous vehicles will inevitably cause some accidents; whether this leads to calls for bans will depend on whether people trust the mechanisms that have been set up to govern their development.”
Autonomous vehicles will inevitably cause some accidents
So the question that remains unanswered is how exactly do you establish a set of rules for governance that is not too tightly controlled to inhibit innovation, yet flexible enough to keep pace with the creation and release of new tech?
Perhaps one of the most important forms of technology for the supply chain comes in the form of the Internet of Things (IoT) and emerging logistics technology. This allows for increased data collection, deliverable in real time to every aspect of the supply chain and creating an overall efficiency boost. With the condition and location of all goods in transit being accessible to supply chain managers, the supply chain can flow more efficiently. The concern with this level of interconnectedness comes in the form of cyber security. The more data points you add to any process, the more chances there are for cyber intrusion.
The concern with this level of interconnectedness comes in the form of cyber security.
“There is money to be gained by performing attacks such as ransomware attacks denying access to data in the supply chain. In addition, you have to remember that supply chains typically involve a large number of stakeholders, making it very difficult to secure the entire chain – often a cyber attack only needs one weak link,” said Lars Jensen, the founder and chief executive of CyberKeel.
New technology also represents a lot of opportunity.
However, this again leads to the consideration of a need for more skill sets as cyber security gains momentum as a growing field of employment. While the WEF does bring up some valid concerns over emerging technology, they are representing one extreme end of the spectrum. New technology also represents a lot of opportunity not just for global supply chains, but the world in general.