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Symposium 2014

Virtual Library File - Labor’s Digital Displacement

The Challenge

The time will come when technologies have completely substituted labor. No way, you say, and you are probably right: it will perhaps only be half of all labor. Indeed, a growing number of commentato ...

The time will come when technologies have completely substituted labor. No way, you say, and you are probably right: it will perhaps only be half of all labor. Indeed, a growing number of commentators think that technology is likely to have a more pronounced impact on employment than it has had in the past. While routine, codifiable tasks have already been largely automated, machines are becoming increasingly good at carrying out cognitive, formerly “human-only” tasks, such as language processing or driving. And the emergence of artificial intelligence and the digital interconnections between people will do much more; with unclear consequences for the labor market. Yet, automation is not the only reason for concern. Combine technologies with globalization and the jobs which cannot (yet) be automated will be offshored or taken over by an international superstar who can, aided be the internet, reach out to individuals anywhere on the planet.

The Nobel Laureate explains the implications of digital technologies for the world economy, placing an emphasis on global supply chains. He writes, “production will not vanish; it will just be less labor intensive. All countries will eventually need to rebuild their growth models around digital technologies and the human capital that supports their deployment and expansion.” He urges us to try to understand where technological forces and trends will lead us. This is what we want to do in the session “The Future of Jobs.”