Artificial Intelligence and Works in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The evolution that we are experiencing in artificial intelligence and robotics has the potential to automate many of the tasks that a large number of jobs are currently involved in.

But does this mean that the majority of workers will become unemployed? Are we at the beginning of an increase in inequality in our society?

As We Forum points out, automation in the industry is nothing new. Each of the industrial revolutions has caused the automation of certain works, first with the appearance of mechanical production through the use of steam engines, then mass production thanks to electrical energy and, finally, the application of communication and electronic technologies.

As the extra income generated by these technological advances has been recycled into the economy, a new demand for human labor has been generated and, in general, there are still many jobs to be filled. But there is some doubt that this process will be repeated this time due to the great capabilities of artificial intelligence along with robotics and the Internet of Things.

On the one hand we find the displacement effect. According to a study conducted by PwC UK (PricewaterhouseCoopers), 30% of jobs within the countries belonging to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) are at potential risk of automation. Furthermore, just because a job has the potential to be automated does not mean that this will definitely happen. There are a range of economic, political, regulatory and organizational factors that could significantly delay automation.

On the other hand, there is the so-called revenue effect, which explains how the inclusion of Artificial Intelligence and robotics techniques in the industry will significantly boost economic growth, increasing performance, reducing costs and improving the quality and range of products that companies can produce.

These profits will be transformed into capital that will be invested in other businesses, increasing the need to remain competitive by lowering product prices. This causes the general society to achieve a greater purchasing power (reaching, in theory, a greater equality) and consequently there is a greater demand that will generate the need to hire new workers.

So, will the effect of the revenue on the effect of
displacement? According to the same study conducted by PwC, the estimate of the percentage of jobs lost over the next 20 years is 20% and also 20% created, understanding then that the feared job loss will not exist. In China even the balance sheet leaves 12% more jobs.

In conclusion, estimates indicate that fears of mass unemployment are unfounded, but this should not give rise to complacency. As with other major technological revolutions, the latter will bring considerable disruption to both labor markets and existing business models.

This will require companies to invest more in training workers by boosting their digital skills. Governments, on the other hand, will have to renew the educational system to focus on human skills that are less easy to automate: creativity, cooperation, personal communication and management and decision-making skills, and high technological specialization.


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