New technology is coming that will transform entire industries—and wipe out others. It's time for unions to get to grips with digitalby Aaron Bastani / March 14, 2018 / Leave a comment
Navigating automation and what it means for unemployment is, along with climate change and an ageing population, one of the great challenges of the twenty-first century.
A 2015 study by the Bank of England showed how technological change, in particular the rise of machine learning, may mean the loss of up to fifteen million UK jobs. A year later the Bank’s Governor, Mark Carney, returned to those forecasts saying that without decisive action livelihoods could be “mercilessly destroyed.”
Such a conclusion is increasingly common. In 2013 a study conducted by Oxford University modelled that 47 per cent of U.S jobs were at “high risk” of being automated, with a further 19 per cent at medium risk. Peter Sondergaard, research director for the consultancy Gartner, claimed that by 2025 one in three jobs will disappear as the result of an emerging “super class” of technologies.
For those sceptical of the ‘rise of the robots’, such reasoning is merely the latest expression of the “Luddite Fallacy”—the mistaken belief that capitalist expansion, driven by new technology, will eliminate more jobs than it creates. For two centuries, they reply, market exchange has confounded such predictions delivering rising living standards, enhanced productivity and work for nearly everyone. And all while the Earth’s human population grew from one to 7.5 billion.