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Muqbil Ahmar

Muqbil Ahmar writes on culture and poetry. He is a writer and theater activist, who wants to bring about harmony and amicability in the present day society. Music, poetry and good food are his passions.

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Is Automation Killing the IT Industry?

Reportedly, tech major IBM is planning to lay off 5000 employees, while another tech biggie Microsoft may probably cut 2800 jobs. Infosys has also announced 8000–9000 job cuts.

These are the facts: Wipro, which is India’s third largest software services company, is sacking 600 employees; speculation is rife the number may go up to 2,000. The company says it’s all part of its annual "performance appraisal." However, this is not an isolated event. Other Information Technology companies have been laying off people as well. Cognizant laid off 6,000 employees. According to reports, the number could have gone up to 10,000. The technology major also said that employees were removed for non-performance. Reportedly, tech major IBM is planning to lay off 5000 employees, while another tech biggie Microsoft may probably cut 2800 jobs. Infosys has also announced 8000–9000 job cuts.

Are international visa restrictions responsible for the firings?

Most people and the media have tended to blame visa restrictions by various countries such as the USA, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand for the trouble. Although that may be a reason for the recent spike in job cuts, industry insiders say that such sackings are here to stay as companies go for intensive automation. They have a valid justification.

They point out that the firings had been planned well in advance. For example, the foundation for the Wipro firings was laid in 2015, when the IT major itself announced that it expected the headcount to go down by approximately 47,000 as it planned to automate 1/3rd of the jobs. This was bound to happen as the IT major pitches for extensive automation, digital services and artificial intelligence.

Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning usurping jobs in India’s IT sector
As companies increasingly go for automation and new-age technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Mining, Virtual Reality, Deep Learning, among others, jobs will drastically be slashed. The phenomenon will especially hit Information Technology sector jobs.

Most IT and ITeS companies have already begun automating jobs. Machines are learning fast and deciphering patterns through sophisticated algorithms and mathematical models. Very soon the number of jobs taken away from human beings would dramatically increase and will be given away to machines armed with artificial intelligence and machine learning. And let me tell you that in most of the areas, human beings would be no match for the advanced machines.

“IBM’s supercomputer Watson can crunch data at 67 million pages per second. It has machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data analytics built into it. Within just a few years, it would have collected huge amount of data, difficult to even imagine, enabling it to carry out tasks and take decisions. Modern innovation like Watson will be in a position to replace about 80% of human jobs. The effects have already started trickling in. I too have a number of employees on my firing list,” says an IBM employee not wanting to be named.

There is no doubt the blitzkrieg of modern technology will leave hundreds of thousands of human beings redundant. The competition has reached a new level. And the rivals this time are well-endowed machines and robots. You can very well guess who will win the stand-off. Perhaps, it’s just a matter of time before intelligent machines replace human beings en masse.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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