No stopping ‘digitalisation avalanche’

News May 17, 2021

The article “No stopping ‘digitalisation avalanche’” was published by Elwin Dava at The Sun Daily.

PETALING JAYA: From the assembly line to the courtroom, humans are being replaced by machines and artificial intelligence (AI).

With the drastic change in the work environment brought on by the global Covid-19 pandemic, the process is expected to pick up speed.

In fact, according to a recent statement by the World Bank, half of the jobs in Malaysia are already either disappearing or being performed from remote locations.

Arena Group head of human resources in Asia, Srithren Krishnan, pointed out that digitalisation cannot be stopped or postponed just to wait until a younger generation is ready to take over.

“Many in the old-school are struggling to remain relevant but they cannot, as long as they continue to believe in the old ways of doing things,” he told theSun, adding that many jobs have already been made irrelevant by new technology.

Among those who have become redundant are some security guards, who have been replaced by auto surveillance systems, and parking attendants who have lost their jobs to automated parking systems, while incoming phone calls can now be automatically directed to the relevant sections, making the receptionist or telephonist no longer useful.

There are many other examples.

Google’s introduction of the adjustable reading glasses now threatens the role of opticians, while AI design software are taking over from architects.

Information technology and services firm JobXcel director of business services, Manoharan Ramachandran, said he expects the pool of workers in the manufacturing sector to shrink.

“This is inevitable, given the rise of AI and shift towards Industrial Revolution 4.0, where the focus is on automation and smart technology. Machines will gradually replace humans, resulting in a fully automated manufacturing process,” he said.

However, it is not the end for humans.

Srithren said heavy digitalisation has forced people to adapt and refine their skills in current circumstances.

He said digital platform builders have already created new career scopes that enable workers to learn new skills to remain employable.

“People will just have to unlearn the old ways of doing things and learn new ones.”

Parent Action Group for Education chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said education also needs to undergo and accept the digital change.

“Teachers must be educated and be prepared for a paradigm shift.

“They must know what global digitalisation means, and see the advantages it has to offer, not just for students but for the economy as a whole. Only then will our educational system to be prepared,” she said.

“Teacher education institutions should include a digitalisation course in the curriculum. Although this may seem daunting at first, the students would benefit in the long run.”

Noor Azimah added that parents should ensure their children are kept up-to-date on developments in the digitalisation process. However, she anticipated that most would eventually rely heavily on the education system to play that role.

Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris psychologist Dr Fauziah Mohd Saad said there has to be a mindset change if the nation is to move with the times.

“We must change in tandem with the rest of the world. If we fight this, it will have a negative impact on mental health, causing anxiety, stress, and depression.”

Information technology expert Fong Choong Fook said IT has already become an integral part of daily life.

“Look at how we use our smartphones and tablets, we always carry these gadgets around. It has already become part of our lives.”

“Future job prospects are leveraging on digitalisation and automation, which means there will be higher dependence on human knowledge over action,” he added.

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