Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, workers have dreaded being replaced by machines and losing their jobs forever. In most cases, these worries have not materialized to their full extent and have largely remained unfounded. However, in a small measure, automation does have an impact on the workforce, especially related to their jobs and wages. But whether that impact is all-pervasive or not leaves plenty of room for discussion.
Automation, Wages, and Jobs
Automation is known to create as much employment as it eliminates. Workers who are proficient with machines are more productive than those who are not. This lowers the costs of goods and services while giving customers a sense of increased gain. As a result, customers spend more thereby generating additional employment. However, some workers suffer, particularly those who are immediately replaced by robots and have to compete with them. Indeed, since the 1980s, more manufacturing jobs were lost, or people saw their pay drop. It appears digital automation has increased inequality in the labor market.
Generally, workers who can supplement the new technology and carry out jobs that are outside the scope of machines, get pay hikes. However, those who perform comparable duties and can be replaced by machines are left in a difficult position. Automation usually results in a transfer of remuneration from employees to company owners, who reap the benefits of increased earnings with reduced labor expenses. It is, therefore, crucial for workers to learn new skills and improve machine compatibility through education and training. Workers who have at least some post secondary credentials often fare better than those who do not.
Is New Automation Different?
The range of tasks and jobs that machines can perform will increase with the advent of much more sophisticated robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) in the coming decades. This "new automation" has the potential to result in much greater worker displacement and inequality than previous waves of automation. More than in the past, this may have a significant impact on college graduates and professionals. The issues that many employees will encounter as a result of automation will grow. But AI will also help raise their living standards by increasing productivity. To ensure that employees can adapt and the advantages of automation are well distributed, there is a need to enact more enabling legislative solutions.
The Rise of Better Policies
Education and training should embrace new and improved laws for the creation of jobs. More employees will require what academics refer to as "21st-century" abilities to complement AI. These include verbal and written communication, sophisticated analytical abilities that require careful judgments of several elements, and inventiveness.
AI and automation may create new issues for employees, some of which may be bigger in scale than what the previous avatar of automation entailed. However, enabling legislation and better training may assist workers in adjusting to these changes. They may also take advantage of increased productivity, which the new technology will bring about.