Tuesday, March 4, 2014

...and technology makes concern for inequality even more significant

Also in the FT, a great article on the impact of robots and artificial intelligence on jobs.  According to a prediction from colleagues at the University of Oxford, almost half of all jobs in the US are at risk from these pressures.  The article highlights two potential results from these trends in the long run:

"This has fed two visions of the future of work. In one, the machines take on many of the boring parts of a job, setting humans free to supply the more advanced – and satisfying – brain work. The other vision is less harmonious: the machines leave many human workers on the scrap heap altogether."

There are at least two important reflections for the political economy of development:

a. Part of the problem to realize the more harmonious vision has to do with the influence of conservative ideology.  If unemployment is primarily a result of lazy people, it is hard to realize a society where people work less and where society builds new funding systems (including a basic income for all).  Yet these are exactly the types of policies we would need in a world dominated by robots.

b. What will happen in developing countries?  Will robotics slow down offshoring?  Will developing countries start replacing human jobs at lower levels of development than the rich countries are doing?

1 comment:

Thomas Shortland said...

Jaron Lanier's work is also very interesting - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22658152. His book "Who Owns the future" is about how the digital revolution will lead to two groups - the googles who have all the data and the wealth, and then the rest of us who will all be out of work.