Disruptive technologies: Risks and opportunities – Can New Zealand make the most of them?
We are a nation of enthusiastic adopters. We embrace technological change and its associated benefits. But any rapid change brings associated trade-offs and risks as well as benefits. It is these trade-offs and risks that must be subject to transparent public debate. The pace at which technology is transforming our lives is exponential. Entire industries are being disrupted as new business models emerge. Regulators, businesses and individuals alike must adapt or be left behind. Our legal and regulatory sectors must act to both protect society and foster innovation. They must modify their frameworks to accommodate technological advances. The job market is changing and will continue to change. Some jobs will disappear. Some will be replaced by different roles that emerge from the relevant technology. Research suggests that roles requiring a low skill level are the most likely to be automated, and that the resulting job loss is likely to be most severe in regional centres. Studies suggest that jobs requiring ‘soft skills’, such as creative and social intelligence, are at a relatively low risk of being automated. In this paper, we explore various industries where technological change is set to significantly disrupt the status quo. Driverless cars, solar power and longer lives – all made possible by technological advancement. Our small island nation is home to numerous disruptive technology companies. According to the CEO of one such company, Rocket Lab, New Zealand is the best place in the world to launch a satellite! These businesses are thriving despite low levels of governmental investment in innovation, by the standards of the developed world. As stakeholders in our country’s future, we must be aware of the impact disruptive technologies are having on our lives: good and bad. In the final section of the paper, we present a series of suggestions that aim to challenge policy makers, businesses and individuals to mindfully embrace technological innovation