Will a com­puter steal your job?

Finweek English Edition - - INSIDE -

Ear­lier this year, re­search con­sul­tancy McKin­sey & Com­pany pub­lished a re­port that iden­ti­fied crit­i­cal IT-en­abled busi­ness trends for the com­ing decade. One of them – the au­tomat­ing of knowl­edge work – has im­pli­ca­tions that ar­guably go far be­yond the busi­ness world, with the po­ten­tial to im­pact the so­cial and po­lit­i­cal spheres as well. The rea­son be­ing that as com­put­ers and ma­chines be­come faster and smarter with each pass­ing year, they threaten to go be­yond just re­plac­ing the low-skilled fac- tory worker.

“Phys­i­cal labour and trans­ac­tional tasks have been widely au­to­mated over the last three decades,” the McKin­sey re­port stated. “New ad­vances in data an­a­lyt­ics, low­cost com­puter power, ma­chine learn­ing, and in­ter­faces that ‘un­der­stand’ hu­mans are mov­ing the au­to­ma­tion fron­tier rapidly to­ward the world’s more than 200m knowl­edge work­ers.”

Put sim­ply, knowl­edge work­ers are those whose pri­mary cap­i­tal is knowl­edge. For ex­am­ple, doc­tors, engi­neers, ar­chi­tects and con­sul­tants are knowl­edge work­ers be­cause they are paid to think – as op­posed to be­ing paid for their mus­cle power.

Erik Bryn­jolf­s­son, a pro­fes­sor at the MIT Sloan School of Man­age­ment in the US, and his col­league An­drew McAfee have been mak­ing sim­i­lar – if not more threat­en­ing – state­ments to the McKin­sey re­port for some time. The two aca­demics have been ar­gu­ing that the rapid ad­vances in com­puter tech­nol­ogy – from im­proved ro­bot­ics to au­to­mated trans­la­tion ser­vices – are largely be­hind the tepid em­ploy­ment

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.