Much of the current discussion on automation is of the “robots-killing-jobs” variety. This alarmism is unsurprising. After all, most research to this point has focused on the introduction of robots into manufacturing, or on computer algorithms that automate routine tasks. These are changes that have replaced, and will continue to replace, jobs that many workers, families and communities have historically depended on.
But if history is any guide, the technologies adopted in the workplace of the future may be quite different than those that were initially dominant. As Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo (2019) suggest, the future of work and the workforce will depend on the balance between labor replacing technologies – those that supplant human brawn or rote repetition – and, in their language, labor reinstating technologies, that generate new tasks at which humans have a comparative advantage.
SOURCE: Marcus Casey and Sarah Nzau. “Robots kill jobs. But they create jobs, too.” The Brookings Institution, March 18, 2019.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia