AI News, Shape Created with Sketch. Ageing Japan: Robots' role in future of elderly care
Shape Created with Sketch. Ageing Japan: Robots' role in future of elderly care
Earlier this month, a report warned that over6 million workersin the UK fear losing their jobs as a result of developments in automation.
more recently Mark Carney, the bank’s governor, suggested job losses caused by the technological revolution couldre-create conditions seen after the industrial revolutionof the 18thand 19thcenturies.
While some experts believe the cycle will repeat once moreand new jobs will outnumber those lost, others point out how past technological advances only mechanised the body, whereasAI will render human worksuperfluous at an ever-increasing level of cognitive complexity.
With some studies claiming automation and artificial intelligence could eliminatehalf of all jobs, calls to defend work as we know it rise up from across the globe.
Whether that memory is realor a delusion, we seem to collectively believe that the world is changing and we panic, sensing with fear the void created by a life without work.
Ahead of donning our funeral robes, consider what we are leaving behind: the “meaning” we derive from a nine-to-five office job, staring blankly at a computer screen;
The reality is that most jobs in western societies are often regarded by the people doing them as subjectively pointless, yet they areobjectively necessary to ensuring an ongoing flow of capital, the distribution of goods and services, and the realisation of profit.
This has led us to what economist Guy Standing has dubbed the “Precariat”: the new social class of the 21stcentury, a collection of individuals – often highly educated – suffering from under-employment, and a life without predictability or security.
If many of the jobs we do today are indeed to be lost as the worst projections predict, and if the era of mass employment were thus to come to an end, what would happen to our society without work’s moral framework?
Now, Graeber, Frayne, and Hunnicutt respectively,condemn the gig economy’s “bullshit jobs”, warn us how “automation will force the way society thinks about work to change”,and call our present work-centred ideology an “accident of history”.
The most high-profile proposal is auniversal basic income(UBI), a programme designed to pay a basic salary to every adult, guaranteeing our subsistence in an automated future without jobs.
Proponents argue a minimum income would allow jobseekers to eschew positions for which they are over-qualified, spend more time in work retraining schemes, and ultimately seek more fulfilling occupations, whilst strengthening the collective bargaining power of workers.
Critics counter that people would stop looking for work altogether and become dependent on the state, although it is curious how the same concerns aren’t extended to rich people with inherited or financial wealth, many of whom are praised for their philanthropic and voluntary “work”.
As Cambridge University academic Dr Peter Sloman, who is researching the history of UBI, points out: “Basic income campaigners can reasonably argue that the current system of low-paid work and benefit sanctions has become coercive and degrading.” However, Sloman also notes that the infrastructure created for the much-criticised universal credit could be turned into a powerful anti-poverty tool without going as far as UBI –for instance, by improving benefit rates and reducing conditionality requirements.
However, if well implemented, automation and AI could allow us for the first time in history to imagine a world where work and survival are decoupled – where the assurance of a dignified existence allows everyone to focus on what they are most passionate about.
Jobs lost, jobs gained: What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages
In an era marked by rapid advances in automation and artificial intelligence, new research assesses the jobs lost and jobs gained under different scenarios through 2030.
Building on our January 2017 report on automation, McKinsey Global Institute’s latest report, Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation (PDF–5MB), assesses the number and types of jobs that might be created under different scenarios through 2030 and compares that to the jobs that could be lost to automation.
Our key finding is that while there may be enough work to maintain full employment to 2030 under most scenarios, the transitions will be very challenging—matching or even exceeding the scale of shifts out of agriculture and manufacturing we have seen in the past.
Other factors include the cost of developing and deploying automation solutions for specific uses in the workplace, the labor-market dynamics (including quality and quantity of labor and associated wages), the benefits of automation beyond labor substitution, and regulatory and social acceptance.
Taking these factors into account, our new research estimates that between almost zero and 30 percent of the hours worked globally could be automated by 2030, depending on the speed of adoption.
Jobs in unpredictable environments—occupations such as gardeners, plumbers, or providers of child- and eldercare—will also generally see less automation by 2030, because they are technically difficult to automate and often command relatively lower wages, which makes automation a less attractive business proposition.
Globally, we estimate that 250 million to 280 million new jobs could be created from the impact of rising incomes on consumer goods alone, with up to an additional 50 million to 85 million jobs generated from higher health and education spending.
This will create significant new demand for a range of occupations, including doctors, nurses, and health technicians but also home-health aides, personal-care aides, and nursing assistants in many countries.
For the next three trends, we model both a trendline scenario and a step-up scenario that assumes additional investments in some areas, based on explicit choices by governments, business leaders, and individuals to create additional jobs.
Infrastructure and buildings are two areas of historic underspending that may create significant additional labor demand if action is taken to bridge infrastructure gaps and overcome housing shortages.
This so-called marketization of previously unpaid work is already prevalent in advanced economies, and rising female workforce participation worldwide could accelerate the trend.
We estimate that this could create 50 million to 90 million jobs globally, mainly in occupations such as childcare, early-childhood education, cleaning, cooking, and gardening.
When we look at the net changes in job growth across all countries, the categories with the highest percentage job growth net of automation include the following: The changes in net occupational growth or decline imply that a very large number of people may need to shift occupational categories and learn new skills in the years ahead.
We estimate that between 400 million and 800 million individuals could be displaced by automation and need to find new jobs by 2030 around the world, based on our midpoint and earliest (that is, the most rapid) automation adoption scenarios.
Of the total displaced, 75 million to 375 million may need to switch occupational categories and learn new skills, under our midpoint and earliest automation adoption scenarios;
In absolute terms, China faces the largest number of workers needing to switch occupations—up to 100 million if automation is adopted rapidly, or 12 percent of the 2030 workforce.
For advanced economies, the share of the workforce that may need to learn new skills and find work in new occupations is much higher: up to one-third of the 2030 workforce in the United States and Germany, and nearly half in Japan.
History would suggest that such fears may be unfounded: over time, labor markets adjust to changes in demand for workers from technological disruptions, although at times with depressed real wages (Exhibit 2).
We address this question about the future of work through two different sets of analyses: one based on modeling of a limited number of catalysts of new labor demand and automation described earlier, and one using a macroeconomic model of the economy that incorporates the dynamic interactions among variables.
Both analyses lead us to conclude that, with sufficient economic growth, innovation, and investment, there can be enough new job creation to offset the impact of automation, although in some advanced economies additional investments will be needed as per our step-up scenario to reduce the risk of job shortages.
However, low-wage countries may be affected as well, if companies adopt automation to boost quality, achieve tighter production control, move production closer to end consumers in high-wage countries, or other benefits beyond reducing labor costs.
It faces the combination of slower job creation coming from economic expansion and a large share of work that can be automated as a result of high wages and the structure of its economy.
Mexico’s projected rate of future economic expansion is more modest, and it could benefit from the job creation in the step-up scenario plus innovation in new occupations and activities to make full use of its workforce.
But automation also may raise labor productivity: firms adopt automation only when doing so enables them to produce more or higher-quality output with the same or fewer inputs (including material, energy, and labor inputs).
If displaced workers are able to be reemployed within one year, our model shows automation lifting the overall economy: full employment is maintained in both the short and long term, wages grow faster than in the baseline model, and productivity is higher.
In advanced economies, occupations that currently require only a secondary education or less see a net decline from automation, while those occupations requiring college degrees and higher grow.
In India and other emerging economies, we find higher labor demand for all education levels, with the largest number of new jobs in occupations requiring a secondary education, but the fastest rate of job growth will be for occupations currently requiring a college or advanced degree.
Although we do not model shifts in relative wages across occupations, the basic economics of labor supply and demand suggests that this should be the case for occupations in which labor demand declines.
Policy choices such as increasing investments in infrastructure, buildings, and energy transitions could help create additional demand for middle-wage jobs such as construction workers in advanced economies.
In many countries, this may require an initiative on the scale of the Marshall Plan, involving sustained investment, new training models, programs to ease worker transitions, income support, and collaboration between the public and private sectors.
Are More and More People Working Meaningless Jobs?
In “Bull__ Jobs,” Graeber, an anthropology professor at the London School of Economics, applies a critical eye to the Western world of work, where, he says, companies pay people to carry out an endless array of tasks that make no meaningful contribution to society.
In it, citing a famous prediction by the economist John Maynard Keynes, he argued that technology should have made workers more productive, leading to a 15-hour workweek, but instead has been used to make people work more, in pointless jobs they hate.
After his essay was published, he solicited comments from people who felt that their jobs were meaningless, and the book draws on several hundred testimonies from people who responded on Twitter to his calls for examples of useless jobs.
Graeber asserts that as much as 40 percent of the work force in rich countries may be stuck in these pointless jobs, though his only proof comes from a 2015 YouGov poll that asked Britons if their job made a “meaningful contribution” to the world — 37 percent said it did not.
A World Without Work
In the near term, local governments might do well to create more and more-ambitious community centers or other public spaces where residents can meet, learn skills, bond around sports or crafts, and socialize.
A national policy that directed money toward centers in distressed areas might remedy the maladies of idleness, and form the beginnings of a long-term experiment on how to reengage people in their neighborhoods in the absence of full employment.
The rich could say, with some accuracy, that their hard work was subsidizing the idleness of millions of “takers.” What’s more, although a universal income might replace lost wages, it would do little to preserve the social benefits of work.
It hired 40,000 artists and other cultural workers to produce music and theater, murals and paintings, state and regional travel guides, and surveys of state records.
But if the balance of work continues to shift toward the small-bore and episodic, the simplest way to help everybody stay busy might be government sponsorship of a national online marketplace of work (or, alternatively, a series of local ones, sponsored by local governments).
To ensure a baseline level of attachment to the workforce, the government could pay adults a flat rate in return for some minimum level of activity on the site, but people could always earn more by taking on more gigs.
Although a digital WPA might strike some people as a strange anachronism, it would be similar to a federalized version of Mechanical Turk, the popular Amazon sister site where individuals and companies post projects of varying complexity, while so-called Turks on the other end browse tasks and collect money for the ones they complete.
By connecting millions of people in one central hub, it might even inspire what the technology writer Robin Sloan has called “a Cambrian explosion of mega-scale creative and intellectual pursuits, a generation of Wikipedia-scale projects that can ask their users for even deeper commitments.”
- On Sunday, March 24, 2019
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