Revolution in the future job market?
The recent study by Pew Research Center shows a very interesting but a worrying picture of more and more widly held believes about the future of jobs. People expect a revolution in the job market, and they are concerned. Most believe that increasing automation will have negative consequences for jobs. Their greatest concern is that automation will make it harder for ordinary people to find jobs.
What is quite surprising is that relatively few predict new, better-paying jobs will be created by technological advances. This is surprising because in the past the automation ended up creating a lot of new jobs and professions, while destroying or modifying others. Just imagine trying to tell someone a century ago that her great-grandchildren would be video-game designers or cybersecurity specialists.
Given that automation and technologies succeeded in replacing people in many jobs already (just think about the agriculture sector) and that we continue inventing many more labor-saving technologies all the time, should we not be somewhat surprised that technological change hasn’t already wiped out employment for the vast majority of workers?
What we see is that in the past two centuries of automation have not made the human labour obsolete. Quite the opposite: the number of people who are in employment as a share of population has grown steadily as women entered the job market in large numbers. What is true, however, that this transition was not immediate and was quite disruptive and painful to the lives of many people who were affected by the changes in the job market, who lost jobs and needed to acquire different skills in order to stay employable.
Will the past be a good guide for the future in predicting how the new technology and artificial intelligence impact the job market of the future? Or, is something different this time round?