miércoles, 23 de enero de 2019

Forget your hopes, work is not going to disappear

Fear to automatisation is in the air. People are scared of losing their jobs due to increasing use of Artificial Intelligence, particularly with the integration of intelligent robots in the working place. According with the Eurobarometer on "Attitudes towards the impact of digitisation and automation on daily life",  74% of respondents expect that due to the use of robots and artificial intelligence more jobs will disappear than new jobs will be created and 72% of respondents believe robots steal peoples' jobs.  

This fears are mainly based in an Oxford University study wrote in 2013 that estimates a 47% of American jobs are at risk of automation, which methodology has been applied in different countries with similar results. Less known is the explanation of the study written by the authors in 2018, which among other things highlighted that this estimation does not mean an employment apocalypse, but only a hint of the scale of the changes that we are facing and the need to craft the appropriate response. As a matter of fact, something similar have happened since the beginning of the XX century with the workforce employed in agriculture, that has decreased from 40% of the population to 2%.

Evidences against the employment apocalypse scenario are beginning to emerge. In spite of its short base of respondents, there are interesting the conclusions of a recent study among American companies that have already incorporated AI as an enterprise tool. Far from diminishing the workforce employed, 40% have increased the number of employees and 34% have neither experienced a decrease nor an increase.

The above mentioned study is nothing more than the confirmation of a warning against neoluditism made by Gartner last year: The apocalyptic predictions don´t take into account how the technology and humans can work together to create new employment. Furthermore, the study also shows a that most companies had move from awareness and early-stage adoption of AI to implementation and determination of what value the technology provides, which also should have influence in a wise usage of AI beyond the mere substitution of humans by machines.

So it would be better to forget for good or bad about the end of work, it is not going to exist. Work is going to change, in the same manner that has evolved since the dawn of humanity, but it will continue to be our daily damnation

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