The topic of job displacement has, throughout US history, ignited frustration over technological advances and their tendency to make traditional jobs obsolete; artisans protested textile mills in the early 19th century, for example…
Reid Hoffman: If you look at most of the automation, it comes down to man–machine combinations. And all productivity means is that when you have productivity increases, each person is doing more. And therefore, the unit—the number of people to do this amount of work—goes down, right? But that then creates resources for doing other work. The most simple one was the transformation from an agricultural economy. We used to have a huge percentage—
James Manyika: Forty-one percent of employment, right?
Reid Hoffman: Yes, was making food. And now it’s under 2 percent. What happens with that 40 percent of the population? Well, they go on to other jobs. Now, the reason this topic is urgent is whether exponentiating Moore’s law changes the rule or not. There’s always painful dislocation. Can we make that pain a lot less? Can we make the time cycle shorter?
I want to share one of the things I learned from a recent trip to Shenzhen, because it’s one of the most interesting manufacturing hubs. We went to Huawei. I was expecting, as a Silicon Valley technologist, that it would be a complete line of robots. The whole thing would be automated because that would obviously be the thing to do.
Roughly 60 percent of it was automated and 40 percent of it was still people. And it’s all a question of choice. You say, “is that just because of low cost?” No, no. These are actually high-pay, high-skill jobs. The answer is actually that, in the future, adaptability is key, and people are more adaptable. So when they set up the machine line and it’s all machines, there is a huge amount of retooling to shift from line one to line two, whereas the people are much more easy to shift.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Automation, jobs, and the future of work | McKinsey & Company.
Our London Futures insights series focuses on the London economy and what it needs to do to maintain and reinforce its position as a leading global business hub. Our latest report in the programme, Agiletown: the relentless march of technology and London’s response, focuses on the challenges and opportunities that technology presents to London. The … Continue reading
The authors further provide evidence that wages and educational attainment exhibit a strong negative relationship with an occupation’s probability of computerisation. Continue reading
The rate of technological innovation obviously has major labor market effects. What is the relationship between new technological advances and the current skill distribution of the labor force? Continue reading
The number of people performing low-skill, low-pay, manual labor tasks has grown along with the number undertaking high-skill, high-pay, nonroutine, principally problem-solving jobs. Employment in the United States is becoming increasingly polar- ized, growing ever more con- centrated in the highest- and lowest-paying occupations and creating growing income inequality. The causes and consequences of this … Continue reading
Canada’s “middle-skill” employment sector continues to erode alongside the growth of high-skill jobs, an indication that the labour market is splintering between well-paid, interesting, permanent jobs – and the rest. Canada is not experiencing the same degree of employment polarization as the United States. But it’s not immune to global trends either, which show robust … Continue reading
Given his calm and reasoned academic demeanor, it is easy to miss just how provocative Erik Brynjolfsson’s contention really is. Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and his collaborator and coauthor Andrew McAfee have been arguing for the last year and a half that impressive advances in computer technology—from improved industrial … Continue reading
Foreign competition and technological change might seem like twin juggernauts, destroying American manufacturing jobs in much the same way. In fact, they’re quite different. Foreign competition from China can be like a tornado, devastating US manufacturing in concentrated fashion but in limited areas around the country, according to a new study from the National Bureau … Continue reading