The Automation Trap

7229001564_0400ee17ee_oResearching Post-Automation Development Models

From Bill Gates to Oxford University, there is a growing concern that technology – both in robotics to artificial intelligence – pose a serious threat to employment. Simply put, the technological unemployment – predicted by Keyes in the 1800s – is posed to displace workers in areas from truck driving to financial analysts and doctors.

What has been missing in this great debate is the fate of emerging countries. From China to Singapore, countries have used manufacturing as a “development ladder” to modernisation. Countries like South Korea, Hong Kong and others have used their cheap labor for manufacturing goods, leading to economic growth to improving the skills-levels of its population.

The majority of human lives in these emerging countries. What will happen if automation removes this “development ladder”? Countries like Bangladesh owe over 80% of its exports to textile manufacturing. Others like Indonesia, with a population over 250 million, look to manufacturing as a path for providing jobs, increasing economic growth, and avoiding dependence on commodities export.

Research Focus

As part of both my independent research and graduate program at the University of Houston, I’m researching the following areas. I’m open to any support of collaboration on any of these topics. Please let me know! Contact me on Facebook, LinkedIn, on via Email.

1. Automation Impact on Indonesia & Bangladesh

How will automation change the trajectories of the economic development of large developing countries? Indonesia has 240 million people, while Bangladesh has over 156 million people. How will their lives change if manufacturing jobs – and increasingly – knowledge worker type jobs become automated?

2. Beyond the Singapore Model: Ethiopia? India? Bhutan? Emirates?

The Singapore and the Shenzhen Model of development relied on export-based manufacturing as the engine for economic growth and more importantly to increase skill levels among the population. Today, the Singapore Model’s days are numbered.

What are the available models for development today? India’s import substitution and focus on knowledge workers? Bhutan’s focus on Gross National Happiness? Or should we look at the still in development models in Ethiopia and United Arab Emirates?

3. Indonesia 2085: The Next 70 Years

In 2015, Indonesia turned 70 years old. What does the next 70 years of Indonesia hold? What do today Indonesians want to see Indonesia as 50, 60, 70 years from now? What should we have achieved? What should we have accomplished? What are the critical possible futures of Indonesia we need to avoid?

My Articles on the Automation Trap

The End of Growth, 23 May 2016


When Saudi Arabia Disrupts Bangladesh, 04 November 2015



Robots & Algorithms: Long Term Threats to Developing Countries?, 13 January 2015

Self-checkout machines at supermarkets replace human workers
Self-checkout machines at supermarkets replace human workers



Field Notes

These are my personal notes on happenings, news, signals related to my research on automation and alternative means on economic development


Key Literature on Automation, Economic Issues

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