Recently Congressman Jessie Jackson Jr. blamed the iPad for American unemployment. Jackson stated the iPad is "probably responsible for eliminating thousand of American jobs." I don't doubt that is a true statement. My response is so. The personal computer is responsible for eliminating thousands of jobs. The same is true of devices such as self-check out kiosks in grocery stores and ATM machines in banks. Cashiers and bank tellers lost their jobs!
This is what technology does. But it is only one side of the equation. Such was also the case during the industrial age and the agricultural age before that. Jackson expanded on his statement by saying "Why do you need to go to Borders anymore? Why do you need to go to Barnes and Noble? Just buy an iPad and download your book, download your newspaper, download your magazine."
As we like to say in Texas. You betcha! This is called progress. What are we to do? Halt progress so folks can keep their jobs. Where would the country be today with such a philosophy? When Amazon came online in the early 90's I was thrilled. Before I had to drive 30 miles accross town to get to the only bookstore in the Dallas metroplex that carried the books that I wanted. And there was a Borders and a Barnes and Noble store closer but they did not stock the quantity or quality of black history books that I seeked.
Because of Amazon, I stopped driving 30 miles across town to and began using Amazon and enjoying a better price, the ability to search inventory from my home, and have the books delivered to my front door. Amazon is bad?
Should I have continued to be inconvenienced so folks can keep their jobs? By the way, to my knowledge no one was stopping Borders and Barnes and Noble from carrying a wider selection of books by African American authors nor stopping them from creating an electronic book reader.
Amazon created the Kindle and Borders and Barnes and Noble were selling books before Amazon ever came online. Innovation is a good thing. For some reason the iPad has not put Amazon out of business. Sure jobs have been eliminated as we have produced digital technologies.
This has always been the case.
Although technically he has a point that jobs have indeed been lost as a result of the iPad, he fails to mention the jobs that the iPad has created. There is a now an entire app industry for the iPhone and iPad devices not to mention the cottage industries of accessories such as cases and car adapters, that have been spawned. There are also the jobs that have been created as competitors develop similar devices. Companies like Google and Dell come to mind.
I found these comments especially disturbing coming from an African American leader at at time when Black unemployment has been reported to be as high as 16%. African Americans, and all Americans for that matter, need to come to grips with the idea that future jobs will be technology jobs.
The sooner we grasp this concept and begin to study and learn in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), the sooner we can start taking advantages of the economy of the 21st century instead of holding on to an outdate mode of doing things. All industries will come under the same stress as the music and now the publishing industries have experienced as technologies pervade their processes.
Do you think the work of auto mechanics is the same today as it was before the advent of computers? The answer is no. Adapt or die. Don't cry about losing your job at Border's books. Reinvent yourself. Take the time to learn the new skills and land a job as an iPad developer or better yet, start your own firm designing iPad applications.
We need leadership that helps us to understand how to navigate the future not cling to the past.