What does automation mean for the economy of tomorrow?



All you need to know about the world this 
week
SEE ALL ISSUES
EDITOR'S LETTER
Our world this week
FEATURE
Myanmar's forgotten people
FEATURE
Tensions in northern Syria reach new heights
FEATURE
Could Lithuania’s Russian hostilities really turn into conflict?
FEATURE
Good times: is the world economy back in full swing?
www.bbc.co.uk
The Japanese porn star who taught China about sex
www.middleeasteye.net
Egypt's 'fourth pyramid' Mohamed Salah: 'He is one of us'
www.wired.co.uk
The strange, untold story of CES, the trade show that refuses to die
www.aljazeera.com
Why some African Americans are moving to Africa
www.theguardian.com
Islamists banned their music. Now Timbuktu is singing again
www.theatlantic.com
The Rise and Fall of Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage
DEBATE
ECONOMICS
What does automation mean for the economy of tomorrow? 3

Across the world, algorithms, mechanisation, and various forms of artificial intelligence (AI) are shaping the decisions of employers, and changing the daily realities of employees. Just as the Industrial Revolution saw chain production specialise - and limit - workers’ activity, so has the integration of computers in companies’ functioning debunked the old correlation between value and manpower. When Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion, the company only had 13 souls working for it. This time last year, consultancy firm McKinsey announced it would conduct a study over several years investigating the effect automation might have on our jobs and production methods. It predicted that automation would foster a new creativity and meaning in the workplace, change the occupations classed as high-wage, and utterly redefine jobs and business processes. Moreover, the specialist consensus is that about half of today’s work activities could be automated thanks to demonstrated technologies. An extra 13% of US jobs could also be robotised once language-processing mechanisms achieve median levels of human performance.

It comes as no surprise, then, that recent years have seen a profusion of discussions on how AI will impact our future. In 2014, Yuval Noah Harari, a University of Jerusalem lecturer, published a bestseller announcing the creation of a new, “useless” class, made up of people whose jobs would disappear. Since then, countless editorials have been written on the end of the job market as we know it, and many a utopian has proclaimed the age of comfortable inactivity to be around the corner. But will machines’ increasing independence challenge humans’ sense of purpose, and disrupt traditional roles? If we are to take science-fiction author William Gibson at his word - “the future is here; it’s just not evenly distributed yet” - we must decide what ‘evenness’ means.

read more
Share Opinion
LATEST
LEADING
L
Add bio
contributions - pts
Submit
A journalistic initiative Sponsored by:
american-express-sponsor
About this
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.
If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies from this website.
OK