The significant and profound changes brought about by technological innovations often raise concerns about employment. But, unfortunately, the idea that machines come to take away our jobs is an idea that usually emerges with every technological disruption.
The most disruptive technology of this phenomenon that we are going through is AI (Artificial Intelligence). It is accompanied by developments in robotics and other emerging innovations that produce substantially unprecedented changes. Machines and algorithms are increasingly capable of matching and surpassing multiple specific abilities exclusively reserved for human understanding.
These substantial transformations have shaped the nature of our day to day activities.
For several centuries, human beings have lived together with machines that replace or improve our physical abilities. Now, we are adapting to complement or replace, by an artificial path, what we used to do with our biological Intelligence.
In this context, the nature of the industry faces radical changes. Intelligent systems and robots will share offices, factories and any workspace with potentially automatable activities – routine, mechanical, repetitive.
As long as the workforce is sufficiently prepared with the abilities needed for this changing labour market, it should not fear being replaced by intelligent machines. The problem lies in the fact that workers do not have the skills in demand, leaving them in a position of vulnerability in the face of these new scenarios.
We look at how the advance of artificial intelligence and robotics affects employment and, in return, how people must adapt to a new work scenario.
We, as a society, must acknowledge and be prepared for future advances, trust that this will improve our lives radically or should we ditch this idea that may or may not be the barrier that holds us from advancing in our evolutionary journey as human civilisation.
SIGNIFICANCE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
The latest studies published worldwide on technological advances and their indirect and unpredictable impact on employment are consolidated on three specific problems.
First, progress on mechanical and routine tasks during automation and application of AI systems, mainly those regular or predictable tasks, are replaced.
In those cases, workers are reassigned and allowed to devote themselves to more creative and productive tasks. When specific jobs become redundant due to automation, the generation of more jobs counteracts these losses.
Secondly, they are ripping off the advantages of opportunities and benefits. Instead of considering automation as a threat, many studies focus on the significant benefits for increasing competitiveness in countries’ economies, especially for emerging and developing countries.
Third. Transition and new skills. We witness large transition scenarios between jobs or tasks that arise, others fully transformed and some that tend to disappear. This is where the focus challenges companies and governments on how they should invest, enabling people to best adapt to the changes, as no efforts are made to keep and encourage all employees in new skills.
What all of us have to do is to make sure we are using AI in a way that is for the benefit of humanity, not to the detriment of humanity.
CEO Apple Inc
Artificial intelligence andUNEMPLOYMENT
Every year, big corporations invest heavily in developing routinary works to speed up the shipment process and bring more revenue and market share.
However, although the generalised perception of the population is pessimistic concerning AI, and these specific cases show signs of employment reduction, this phenomenon does not have a global impact.
In fact, in 2017, the incorporation of robots has increased by 6% compared to the previous year (33,192 units) and has reduced its unemployment rate.
When we put the magnifying glass on manufacturing industries, we noticed a paradox. Since 2010, a path towards automation has strengthened the manufacturers.
Yet, the number of workers in the automotive sector increased by 230,000 between 2010 and 2015, while 60,000 industrial robots were installed in the same period.
A similar phenomenon occurred in that sector in Germany. For example, during 2010-2015, the number of jobs in the automotive industry increased from 93,000 to 813,000, while 93,000 robots were installed during that period in the same sector.
The country’s unemployment rate has been falling steadily for years (from 8.1% in 2009 to 5.9% in 2020); the last year has a slight increase due to the current pandemic; however, it is projected to remain practically unchanged in 2023 while at the same time the production of robots and intelligent systems increases.
We note asymmetries, since while growing automation can reduce employment in some sectors, it increases it in others, as in the case of the automobile industry; therefore, it is necessary to balance the economic repercussions and plan to counterattack this phenomenon.
It is almost impossible to know with certainty the consequences of the next industrial disruption because it involves too many factors that make it difficult to establish causal correlations with some degree of certainty about the direct and indirect effects on employment.
AND THE CREATION OF NEW JOBS
Work focused on the use and improvement of technology
Estimates about the future of employment show that until 2022 the demand for labour will be focused on roles as data analysts and scientists, software and application developers, AI specialists, process automation experts, robotics engineers, among others. These jobs are linked to the creation, development and application of robots or intelligent systems.
Freelance work and the gig economy
The gig economy, or collaborative economy, is based on concrete work carried out sporadically, with flexibility, online work and the decentralisation of tasks being its main pillars.
Within the collaborative economy, we can also find crowd work. This working modality consists of groups of workers who, from different places in the world, offer companies the possibility of developing projects at any time of the day and their comfort.
The concept of the entrepreneurial economy is linked to two main areas. On the one hand, the goods and services generated in art, design, music, fashion, crafts and various forms of entertainment. On the other hand, the innovation platforms and systems that support creativity are associated with aesthetics, the appearance of goods and services, and consumers’ emotional changes.
One case was in Latin America and the Caribbean alone; in 2015, the concept of the entrepreneurial economy is known as “Economia Naranja”, and it meant the creation of 1.9 million jobs. This could be compared to the scale of job creation of countries such as Uruguay or Costa Rica combined.
HUMANES AND MACHINES
As convergence between AI systems, robots and human workers or the new “digital workers”. The central idea is to create a “workforce with increased intelligence”, where AI pushes the limits of traditional skills.
On this basis, augmented intelligence is based on an inclusive collaboration between both parties that presupposes directing efforts to establish four powerful tools that apply to the major sectors of human activities: industrial, manufacturing and services. These are:
– Intelligent assistance
– Intellectual diagnosis
It is enhancing and improving the efficiency in areas that truly impact on a high scale basis.
Although the vast possibilities of emerging technologies brought the statistics on the increase in robotisation, they do not impact unemployment rates globally in the countries with the most significant technological development in this area.
In the public sector, it is unlikely to foresee substantial risks in the face of the wave of automation that will come in the coming years. On the contrary, we must take advantage of the potential of AI and robotics. At the same time, it is vital to accompany the transition so that workers can acquire new skills and generate fertile ecosystems so that vulnerable people are not left behind.
The labour market increasingly demands a skilled workforce with digital and creative skills to adapt to technological changes. This adaptation is critical, as today’s skills will probably be obsolete in a few years.
For all these reasons, it is of the utmost importance that governments and companies become aware of the phenomenon, adopt measures and provide solutions for sustainable development of human work.
Sergio R. Castillo
Chief Operating Officer