Manhattan Journal : Dont fear thy fellowmen!

Fear of lossing jobs to fellow humans is missing the woods for the trees. Robots are hiding in plain sight!

Somewhere the television blares.  They show a person shot dead by a drunk old man, in their far off land.   Elsewhere, there was an American who saved the lives of Indians who were shoot.   This is in the same land, a land of immigrants – which has created a story unrivalled in terms of prosperity and economic growth.

Somebody in India tunes the TV and sees – they see two cases of shootings and that feeling seeps in.  As a person who is working with US and India investors and businesses, I find that the overall climate to be very positive, and that the average American respects the average Indian.  Of course, normal is not news.

I would not blame the media for serving eye candy.  But the context here is very specific.   In every coffee shop in Manhattan, I see zillions of Indians and Americans, amid other people talking shop – possibilities, businesses, investments, technology and even politics.  The world is by and large is business as usual.  Now, of course, there is an undercurrent.

What is the undercurrent?  The opinion that countries have unfairly taken away job opportunities.  When you take a snapshot, it seems real.  But it is the immigrants who dreamed big in this land of opportunities who have created jobs.  For every one job that is perceivedly taken away, there is a job that is created by an immigrant entrepreneur.  Do we need to say more – from the days of the native Indians, this has been the story.  How far do we freeze the time frame?

Now, being normal is difficult.  History is remembered as a series of abnormalities which are perceived as change.  The fear that has crept in against the immigrants today, makes one feel that this country is not ’embracing’ any more.  It takes only few years to create a series of ‘normal events’ in the other direction, fostered by political action and fueled by media, to feel that ‘fear is the new normal’.

History has always proven that such blips of the present add up to historic blunders of the past – either through silence and the denial of the ‘normal people’ to ‘inevitable backlash’ of tactonic proportions.  As they say, such fear which makes a normal life look abnormal should be nipped in the bud.

So what is the fear all about?  The fear is about an uncertain future, loss of jobs.  If you have to just dig deep, and you will find that the reason is automation.  Jobs are not lost only in the US, but in countries like Japan, India and China.  Low skills are not relevant anymore.   The fear is about change – and the change is not driven by immigrants, but by automation.  Now, this news, matters.  Do we see it as a ‘bad news’?   We see it as the trickle of a tsunami that is coming the human’s way.  This will cause an upheaval that can be cataclysmic.  That is the fear – and the reason is known.   It is worth investing time to retrain and pivot the human mind to actually solving the problem rather than fear-mongering around fellow humans.

Human migration for growth and prosperity has happened from time immemorial.   That is the normal.  And that is never the news that would feed the eyeballs.  But that is ok.   Accept the normal.  Ignore the news.  Life is too good to be consumed by this fear.

Shut off that television – meet your fellow human.  You will get the fear away, and then start learning to make your moves – beyond the fear.


Ashok Subramanian shuttles between New York and Bangalore to pursue investment and business opportunities.  He runs an investment ventures firm and a technology innovation group.

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