Technological Disruptions in Emerging Markets: Mexico

As my time in Tecnológico de Monterrey comes to a near close, the learning experience, the physical observations and company visits made me understand how disruptive technology will shock economies around the world… including emerging countries such as Mexico.

Current Senior Minister of Singapore Tharman Shanmugaratnum, who stated that “there is a war against intelligent machines and AI… There is another 5 to 10 years for countries to respond by getting into the game of global value chains.” The Minister was referring to the opportunity window for countries to up-skill their labour force and provide international social mobility for their citizens via initial labour-intensive market activities.

We visited multiple firms including Bimbo (largest multinational bakery manufacturing company), Pirelli (Italian premium tire and automobile company), Flexi (Mexican shoe company), and Neoris (a modern digital technological consulting firm.

All of these firms have some form of artificial intelligence and automation within their manufacturing facilities. For example, in Grupo Bimbo, all of the bakery made in the Monterrey factory were mostly made by machines. Even the packaging system from the package bag to the boxes were all organised by AI machines. The only role for some of the workers were to manage the functioning of the machines, correct errors from the manufacturing process of the machines and some manual labour for moving boxes and finalising the production process.

Flexi facility.

“Automation provides us with wondrous increases of production and information, but does it tell us what to do with the men the machines displace? Modern industry gives us the capacity for unparalleled wealth – but where is our capacity to make that wealth meaningful to the poor of every nation?” — Robert Kennedy

Pirelli office

This was staggering to me. I only thought this problem existed in advanced countries, but I was wrong…. the claims made by Andrew Yang in his book ‘The War on Normal People’ is happening across emerging markets as well.

Technological disruption and job insecurity for low-skilled work is going to get worse as a process. At our company visits, during the question and answer questions, most of the managers expressed their desire for more automation and greater efficiency through machines. This is great news for international businesses regarding efficiency and productivity, but this is terrible for manufacturing workers in blue collar jobs in both emerging markets and advanced countries.

Coming to Mexico was a life-changing experience and helped me understand that there are global challenges. Automation and technological innovation is great for the world, but it has a cost. We must continue to research for public policy solutions to the emerging problem of technological disruption.

As a final word, I would like to thank the faculty of Tecnológico de Monterrey for this wonderful opportunity. Special mentions to Professor Anil Yasin for the workshops, intellectual conversations, mentorship and guidance throughout my time in Mexico.

Award Ceremony for iWinterMX

Leonard Hong

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