AI News, The future of work (The future of work) artificial intelligence

Policy Options

The head of the federal government’s foresight agency says identifying the skills that workers will need in the future, as jobs rapidly change or disappear completely, is one of the toughest challenges policy-makers have in front of them.

“A lot of organizations are struggling with that big question and a lot of innovation is needed there…It is the nut that needs to be cracked in the coming years to efficiently be able to bring people from the old economy into the new economy.” In its recent report The Future of Work: Five Game Changers, Policy Horizons identifies these five “game changers, “which could transform work, the very character of the economy and social programs underpinning the economy.

Van der Elst said these bundles of tasks could be bought and sold on digital labour platforms, where workers are paid piecemeal for the tasks rather than through salaries or hourly rates for actual time spent doing the work.

Lower labour costs could drive down prices, which would leave those with jobs feeling they have more buying power – even if wages don’t increase – than those who lose employment.

Where people work and earn may not be where they live and spend Van der Elst said the game-changer that’s getting the least attention is the ripple-effect of people working and earning in places other than where they live and spend.

In the resource and agricultural industries, advances in robotics, virtual reality, and in mixed reality (where virtual objects are combined with the real world) could reduce the need for people to be physically at the job site.

If people aren’t working in remote or small towns near mines or other projects, there will no longer be a need for grocery stores, hairdressers and all the other secondary businesses that created a local economy around an industry.

As well, governments will need to consider how they will collect income taxes from citizens who are working online for companies in other countries, and how to apply consumption taxes to digital goods and services.

Automation could erode employment before it replaces entire jobs Van der Elst said AI and automation could put people out of work long before technology replaces entire types of jobs.

AI decreases the scarcity of knowledge workers AI could spell an end to the shortage of knowledge workers, those in the “thinking professions.” Firms using AI for accounting or managing data, for example, could expand their capacity at little or no cost without hiring and training new staff.

The operator who is using virtual reality technology to remotely drill a mine thousands of miles away could require cognitive skills and aptitudes that are different from those needed by someone who is physically working at the site.

The Prime Minister’s mandate letter for Labour Minister Filomena Tassi included the directive to “Develop greater labour protections for people who work through digital platforms, whose status is not clearly covered by provincial or federal laws.” Photo: Shutterstock, by

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