Is Automation challenging the future of work?
This is the question which has been posted for decades as the development of Artificial Intelligence has grown in importance for many business leaders who are looking for the best ways of becoming as efficient as possible in the work being completed on their behalf. The Harvard Business Review looked back at the history of innovation over the last two hundred years and identified the fact the current climate of technological development was not any different to the development seen in the last two hundred years.
In fact, the Harvard Business Review believes the current climate of technological change was similar to that seen by former farm laborers in the 19th-century when electrification of the developed world led to a change in the way the majority worked. The current fears of falling wages and mass unemployment were also feared in the 19th-century as the industrial revolution led to a changing climate of employment; a similar fate could be seen in the coming decades with a difficult time for many manufacturing and low-skilled workers should be followed by a period of employment growth and sustained levels of higher wages in the coming years.
Regulation could be key
In the past, the rise of automation has been limited to the elimination of low-skilled jobs which have soon been replaced by new careers for those who are seeking employment. A similar fate could well befall many who will need to be retrained with new areas of education becoming important for government agencies to explore; a further issue many fear could cause major issues is the role of automation in traditionally middle-class positions such as lawyers and medical professionals who may see much of their work done by AI machines in the future.
The Guardian reports the Institute for Public Policy Research is seeking to engage with government agencies around the world to develop new ways of regulating the introduction of AI in a way which will not cause mass unemployment of loss of wages at any level. The elimination of roles in a variety of sectors will result in the need for employment and training to take place in a range of areas and new ways of making sure the wealth created does not result in a growing gap between rich and poor.
Australia stands as an example of former failures
Australia is often seen as one of the leading members of the developed world with a growing economy which is allowing the people of the nation to prosper in the last few decades. However, Andrew Charlton and AlphaBeta Advisors believe the mistakes of the past must be avoided when automation moves ever closer in many different industrial areas.
AlphaBeta Advisors explains there is a lack of investment from major companies in Australia where only nine percent of publicly traded companies are making major investments in AI. Other issues identified by AlphaBeta include the need for greater training being needed for Australian low-skilled workers who have lost their jobs at a rate of one in every ten over the last 25 years; one in four of those who have lost their jobs have not returned to the Australian workforce.
Education will be needed
According to AlphaBeta and Andrew Charlton, the need for education is important in Australia and around the world as changes to the way work is completed require more education for workers. The Harvard Business Review states earlier issues with technology being introduced during the Industrial Revolution were solved by employers looking to invest in a workforce which include many employees eager to learn to further their careers.
Earlier changes to employment in the late 20th-century saw coal miners and mill workers move into call centers and warehouses which show how the employment sector evolves over time. The introduction of automated technology into all sectors will result in the possibility of employers growing richer with a reduced workforce. At this point, it is important for government agencies to invest in new technologies and education for the next generation of workers who will enter a much-changed workforce.