When machines become workers, what will be the human role? That is the great question that emerges every time we think about disruptive innovation and technology automating some activity, specially through AI and robotics.
Technology has been reshaping work since the first Industrial Revolution and globalization has been changing work for decades, but the coming reinvention of work is unlike anything we have witnessed before.
Automation has long displaced workers in blue-collar jobs but AI is now disrupting white-collar work and creative endeavors, jobs long considered immune to technological displacement. Now, the next waves of disruptive technology — AI, robotics, virtual reality, IoT and sharing economy platforms — are poised to take labor displacement to a higher level.
We are in the early stages of these shifts, and it is hard to know exactly how they will play out. The disruption of work is already spawning business model innovation, however, some of the biggest disruptive implications will extend beyond the business world with big political and social implications.
Income inequality could be greatly exacerbated and the social safety net such as health care benefits and retirement savings, which are often provided through the employer-employee relationship, might disappear. To maintain social stability, we will need bold solutions — including, perhaps, a universal basic income. Governments will need to find the right balance, creating regulatory regimes designed for the future.
Meanwhile, the machine economy promises to deliver a "leisure dividend" unlike anything we have seen before. We don’t yet know whether we will use this spare time to enrich our lives culturally and intellectually or whether the loss of work will deprive us of something elemental that gives our lives a sense of purpose.
Not all jobs will be affected and not all affected jobs will be eliminated — as always, automation will both replace and supplement human labor — but jobs that are truly untouched will be the exception rather than the norm.
Nobiletec is a multi-national consultancy firm specializes in B2B, B2C and P2P FinTech solutions.