The pandemic has given us an early glimpse at how truly disruptive the fourth industrial revolution may be, and the measures we'll need to support human dignity.
- The coronavirus crisis has acted as a catalyst for two powerful transformative forces: automation and universal basic income.
- These two intertwined forces will undoubtedly gain steam, writes Frederick Kuo, and the pandemic will hasten the acceptance of them from a scale of decades to years or mere months.
- This crisis has ushered in a glimpse of what a dystopian future could look like as a rapidly advancing fourth industrial revolution inevitably causes severe disruption in our economy and labor structure.
COVID-19 will expedite automation<p>As the mobility of human beings grinds to a halt due to public health directives and fears of infection, our need for food, resources and social connection has forced us to increasingly rely on technology to fill urgent gaps. In the United States, Amazon is seizing this opportunity to further entrench its <a href="https://nypost.com/2020/03/31/coronavirus-is-only-making-jeff-bezos-and-amazon-more-powerful/" target="_blank">domination</a>, while in China, robots are being deployed to serve those in <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/18/how-china-is-using-robots-and-telemedicine-to-combat-the-coronavirus.html" target="_blank">quarantine</a>. In a world where fear of contact with other humans has become pervasive, businesses that can adapt quickly and significantly automate their supply lines and cut points of human contact stand to thrive in this new market. </p><p>Whereas before this crisis, the need for automation was mainly driven by the desire for increased profits and improved efficiency, the momentous shift in public consciousness today regarding simple human contact may make automation almost a necessity for many businesses to survive. When humans trust a robot to handle or deliver their food or goods more than they trust another human, or when crowded workplaces present public health hazards, jobs for humans will be unceremoniously eliminated. Given existing technologies, experts have estimated <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/24/the-robots-are-ready-as-the-covid-19-recession-spreads/" target="_blank">36 million jobs</a> may be vulnerable, ranging from trucking and delivery to food service and repetitive white collar jobs, the labor market may face a significant restructure driven by <a href="https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/3/31/21200010/coronavirus-recession-automation-brookings-mark-muro" target="_blank">new technology</a> and a radically altered market for those technologies. In a recent survey conducted by auditing firm <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/30/bosses-speed-up-automation-as-virus-keeps-workers-home" target="_blank">Ernst & Young</a>, more than half of company bosses throughout 45 countries had begun implementing existing plans to fast track automation.</p>
Mainstream acceptance of UBI<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="44c33c426c79ad9f2c6148d8f9f63bc4"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UEsK7hpIkVI?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>In early 2019, <a href="https://time.com/5804656/ubi-yang-coronavirus/" target="_blank">Andrew Yang</a> began gaining news coverage regarding the central theme of his presidential campaign: $1,000 a month in universal basic income (UBI) dispersed to every American. His primary argument for the necessity of this safety net rested on the belief that the coming age of automation was about to inundate vast scores of our current jobs with a shrinking percentage of elite tech corporations gobbling up more and more of the profit. When Yang first introduced his vision, it seemed to belong to a remote dystopian future with little relevance to the booming economy and low unemployment figures that was the reality until only weeks ago. On the right, he was lambasted as a communist seeking to turn American citizens into dependents to the state. On the left, his ideas were dismissed as other Democratic hopefuls touted the Green New Deal and job programs.</p><p>Fast forward to today and Andrew Yang's UBI theory has moved straight into the forefront. Trump, perhaps cognizant that the "Yang Gang" pulled a great deal of support from his own supporters, quickly recognized the popularity of his ideas and the need to provide supplemental income to Americans as shelter-in-place directives began to take hold throughout the country. The massive <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/coronavirus-checks-direct-deposits-are-coming-here-s-everything-you-n1168936" target="_blank">$2 trillion</a> coronavirus emergency stimulus will provide every American earning $75,000 or less, regardless of current employment, a check of $1,200 per person and $500 per child for the duration of the crisis. There has been little debate over the necessity of this measure because it has proven to be widely popular to the public, regardless of political standing. It lifts some of the immediate and pressing need to work and helps take some of the edge off from isolating at home, thus contributing to a quicker resolution of this health crisis by sending fewer people out into the streets.</p>
A.I. hasn't come for our jobs just yet, but it can figure out who is looking for a new one.
- A new study analyzes mountains of data to see which industries have the highest level of employee volatility.
- Volatility isn't always a bad thing, but it is always good to know about.
- Moving to new jobs within the same industry is often a route to higher wages.
Not precisely the AI-related employment shock you were thinking of.<p>The <a href="https://www.workforcelogiq.com/2020/02/12/new-predictive-labor-market-report-workforce-volatility-across-industries-states-cities-and-job-functions/" target="_blank">study</a>, carried out by the <a href="https://www.workforcelogiq.com/about/" target="_blank">Workforce Logiq</a> company, uses data from "40,000 sources, 1 billion+ monthly interactions, and analytics on over 100 million candidates and 8 million organizations" in combination with A.I. analysis and a variety of models to determine how a variety of local and global factors contribute to employment stability or volatility.</p><p>The model gives every industry, company, and region included in the study a Talent Retention Risk (TRR) score. A higher the TRR, the higher the employee volatility. With it, upwards of 2000 sorts of data, including economic information, news about the industry and company, leadership changes, and other factors are accessed. </p><p>The findings, organized here into a chart, show which industries are more at risk for volatility and which are less so:</p>
Workforce Logiq<p>The authors point out that Mississippi has no Fortune 500 companies in it and as a result have little headhunting to drive up their score. On the other end of the spectrum, New York has a ton. While the authors conclude that higher scores relate to more opportunities overall, they also point out that the industries with the highest volatility, as seen above, tend are concentrated in the same areas. </p>
Why are some industries dealing with much higher scores than others?<p>In some cases, these scores are the result of multiple industry-level issues. The mining industry has a very high score, the highest on the list, partly because of a decrease in demand for coal. </p><p>However, a high TRR score isn't always a sign that things are horrible for the industry or at a particular firm. It could also mean that the industry is in a situation where talented workers are willing and able to move around. As individuals, software engineers were found to be very open to new opportunities—a sign of how many opportunities for advancement there are for them.</p><p>The authors of the study also mentioned that some of the high scores are typical for an economy that is close to full employment, which is hardly a bad thing. Recruiters are the most willing to respond positively to an unsolicited message from another recruiter. In this economy, headhunters are all but required and the offers are getting better. </p><p>Not everyone is so ready for job switching, though. Workers in nursing, education, and public safety (industries with the lowest TRR scores) tend to be comfortable where they are. This is caused by a variety of factors, including the emotional elements of the job, the higher levels of interest in a good working environment for people in these sectors, and the often high level of investment that people in these fields put into their communities.</p>
Why are people so open to recruiters reaching out or switching jobs on their own?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="bCPwow0O" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="0a17d9cbc6fae7ab7cd722feedc1a992"> <div id="botr_bCPwow0O_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/bCPwow0O-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/bCPwow0O-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/bCPwow0O-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>It is often easier to make more money by changing companies than to wait it out at your current job. According to research by <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/14/workers-in-these-5-fields-are-most-likely-to-quit-their-jobs.html" target="_blank">Gartner</a>, companies that are looking for new talent elsewhere can be willing to offer as much as a 15 percent increase in pay. At the same time, yearly raises tend to be limited to two or three percent for workers who stay put. This is a recognized trend and a common argument against non-competition clauses in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/24/non-compete-clause-low-wage-workers-lawsuits-rights" target="_blank">contracts</a>.</p><p>Artificial intelligence is making it possible to review and analyze much larger amounts of data than ever before. In this case, it provides a way to look at data from both local and global trends to determine what industries are at continued risk for high turnover and who stands to benefit from it. </p>
Discover the peril and potential of an automated robotic world.
- Journalist Andrés Oppenheimer, columnist and member of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team explores the cutting edge of automation.
- From South Korean robot schools, Silicon valley futurist predictions and automated Japanese restaurants, this book shows us that the future of work is almost here.
- Already replacing a growing number of workers while also creating new roles, the concept of employment is becoming even more dynamic.
The Job Guarantee is a policy proposal that would have the state function as an employer of last resort.
Here at Big Think we like to talk about the basic income guarantee. While the basic income is an interesting idea, objections to it abound. Also, it isn’t the only idea for ending poverty making the rounds. While the basic income gets a lot of press, there's another idea: the Job Guarantee.
An MIT study predicts when artificial intelligence will take over for humans in different occupations.
While technology develops at exponential speed, transforming how we go about our everyday tasks and extending our lives, it also offers much to worry about. In particular, many top minds think that automation will cost humans their employment, with up to 47% of all jobs gone in the next 25 years. And chances are, this number could be even higher and the massive job loss will come earlier.