Another tour of global travel this year strengthened the signal in mind that familiarity is the new reality around the globe. Big businesses and known brand names are everywhere with little differences in or outside any country’s borders, from American Walmart or Starbucks to French Carrefour, German Mercedes-Benz… The name of the town is? It really doesn’t matter that much.
Although still acting up in some scattered pockets of the underdeveloped world, it is in fact the same wave that has been sweeping through for several decades by now, where big businesses gradually eliminated the cute papa and mama shops on the streets. This is an age often called: “The name of the town is a big corporation(xxx).”
Now, another wave from the horizon seems to be roaring over and maybe indeed a new age has begun. Similarity everywhere will be even more pronounced.
Walmart just announced that it will layout thousands of back-office workers due to automation and online initiatives. The competition or efficiency needs of the modern businesses and fast advancement of the technologies inevitably will trigger such a reality. Technology automation will reduce human labors from many manual and repetitive tasks. Further more, cloud computing today will eventually promote centralized IT and back-office management across the globe, which in turn will reduce more traditional human resources in these areas. Cloud-powered AI and robotics will eventually be able to replace even the higher-level jobs that usually require certain situational human experiences or judgements.
Many jobs will be at risks, but on the other hand, humans may benefit from the freed-up time by engaging in more creative and leisure-based activities. Would we see more start-ups or art fairs in the making? Certainly. However big businesses are already buying start-ups at record speed. Inequality, resource scarcity and uncertainty may also render many small creative work less economically feasible for a wealthy living.
After a couple of decades, what would we call the name of our town? Let’s hope that it won’t be called a District 9. World peace, policies and education may well decide the fate of our town.