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Coping with the automation revolution: The need for strong policies

A technological revolution is underway (in progress; प्रक्रिया में) and it is subtly (delicately; आसानी से/ नाज़ुक ) but quickly changing the way work gets done. With an ageing population in several developed and nearly developed economies, we need to find alternate (other; वैकल्पिक)ways to get work done–either through automation or by repurposing (adapt for use differently; अन्य उपयोग के लिए अनुकूलित करना) human labour. This revolution is altering relationships between enterprises, employees and customers. In fact, it is impacting the entire human race. It has already changed the way we search, with Alexa, OK Google and Siri; the way we bank, with robo advisors in the front office; and the way a doctor administers (delivers; प्रयोग करना) medicines with IoT devices, artificial skins and AI-led diagnostic solutions, and so on.

Technology is making us smarter and pushing the globe towards an intelligent bot-economy (an economy where automation is prevalent; एक अर्थव्यवस्था जहां स्वचालित यंत्र का उपयोग) . But what makes this transformation appealing (interesting; आकर्षक/ दिलचस्प) also makes it potentially dangerous–think about the DDOS (distributed denial of services) attack carried out by bots (robots; रोबोट) some time ago, or cryptocurrency thefts and their use in trade of illegal drugs, chemicals and terror funding. It is imperative (crucial; अनिवार्य/महत्वपूर्ण) that we understand the impact and design policies and regulations to exploit (make use of; उपयोग करना) this digital revolution safely, carefully and in its entirety (whole; संपूर्णता); at the same time, enable the human race to plan, adopt and minimise negative impact in the form of large scale job / skill redundancies (irrelevance; अनुपयुक्त) that it may bring with it.

Seldom (rarely; शायद/कभी-कभी) do we encounter (experience;अनुभव) a change of this magnitude (extent;हद/परिमाण). Now, there is no turning back. Hence the question facing all of us is not whether you are ‘for’ or ‘against’ digital or cognitive or artificial intelligence. However, it is about the uncertainty and anxiety that this digital revolution brings with it. It has the potential to fuel (give rise to;बढ़ावा देना) social upheaval (disruption; उथलपुथल/ विघटन) about the future, leading to economic turmoil (chaos) and the potential to cause a financial and societal breakdown (failure;असफलता/विफलता ) never witnessed (seen; साक्ष्य/देखना) in history. While in the past, humans adapted to using steam power and electricity, chances are that we will do so again with the digital revolution. But this time around, global collaboration (cooperation;सहयोग) and partnership, joint policies and global change management will be a must.

The issues that policy makers raise are complicated, whereas for businesses, the real benefits of automation are comparatively clear. The benefits at a macroeconomic (concerned with large-scale economic factors; बड़े पैमाने पर आर्थिक कारकों के साथ संबंध है/ व्यापक आर्थिक) level can’t be denied–it is estimated that automation could raise productivity growth on by as much as 0.8 to 1.4 percent annually around the world. Therefore, the right approach is to formulate (prepare; तैयार करना) smart policies that can help realise the maximum potential (capacity; क्षमता) of these new technologies while curtailing (restricting;सीमित/ कटौती ) the expected disruptions.

Policy makers need to embrace (adopt; अपनाना) this opportunity to provide necessary fillip (push;प्रोत्साहन) to their economies to benefit from productivity growth, increased investments and newer market incentives (something that acts as an encouragement; प्रोत्साहन राशि). They will need to focus on policies that respond to changes driven by the digital revolution at multiple levels-–global, regional/national, organisational and societal. These policies will have to support the workforce, companies and various other institutions to adapt to the impact on employment and provide transition support for those dislocated (those forced to leave their jobs; स्थान परिवर्तन / उन लोगों को अपनी नौकरी छोड़ने के लिए मजबूर किया). They must also prepare for reskilling and upskilling (learning additional skills; कुछ अतिरिक् सिखाना) needs, and rethink education and training programs. In addition, policy makers across the globe will need to collaborate to deal with, amongst other things, data protection, technology regulations, treaties against cyber wars, data siphoning (stealing; चोरी करना), international taxation, labour policies, inequality and so on. There is a need to alter the current educational curriculum to ensure that students of today are operating in a domain (field; क्षेत्र) where they can master the art of creating and using technology-led solutions to complement (support; पूरक/समर्थन) them to become smarter, rather than be replaced by these solutions.

As an example, India is one of the few countries that has both an AI Policy and a reskilling programme. This is a great start. But we need more focus and time-bound execution (the act of carrying out; कार्यान्वयन) for programmes such as Skill India to help ride out (deal with; निपटना) the current digital tsunami (overflow; अत्याधिक मात्रा में) with minimal negative impact.

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