To what extent will new digital technologies threaten future employment? 新的数字技术将在多大程度上威胁未来的就业?

发表于:2022-08-17 17:39:31 范文

One of the questions that often arise regards whether the growing intelligence of digital technologies as well as their high level of efficiency and productivity can in any way imply that machines will replace human being as labourers in businesses and organisations. Researchers and scholars who argue that machines will take away a significant portion of employment opportunities from human beings provide a number of arguments to support their position. To begin with, Erik Brynjolfsson argues that as computer becomes more powerful, the demand for certain types of human skills in companies decline, leading to loss of employment for human beings (Bernstein and Raman 2015). In this regards, the ability of companies to successful adopt the use of machines to perform certain tasks implies that they have been forced to partially or completely eliminate certain jobs. Furthermore, the ability of machines to work with minimum supervision has also contributed to the reduction of employees in the management levels, thus maintaining a leaner management structure. Importantly, Frank, Roehrig and Pring (2017) observes that the introduction of artificial intelligence technology, which has contributed to the emergence of different kinds of smart machines and robots, implies that some jobs in organisations are likely to disappear faster than expected.

经常出现的一个问题是,数字技术日益智能化以及其高水平的效率和生产率是否意味着机器将取代人类成为企业和组织中的劳动者。认为机器将剥夺人类大部分就业机会的研究人员和学者提供了许多论据来支持他们的立场。首先,Erik Brynjolfsson认为,随着计算机越来越强大,公司对某些类型的人类技能的需求下降,导致人类失业(Bernstein和Raman,2015)。在这方面,公司成功采用机器执行某些任务的能力意味着他们被迫部分或完全取消某些工作。此外,机器在最少监督下工作的能力也有助于减少管理层的员工,从而保持更精简的管理结构。重要的是,Frank、Roehrig和Spring(2017)观察到,人工智能技术的引入促进了不同类型的智能机器和机器人的出现,这意味着组织中的一些工作岗位可能会以比预期更快的速度消失。

Speaking from this point of view, there is a need to observe that the researchers and scholars who perceive that technology will replace human beings at the workplace observe that close to half of the jobs will soon be lost to digital technology, thus making close to 50 percent of the people who are currently employed in different sectors jobless. In this case, Morikawa (2016) argues that approximately 47 percent of the jobs in the United States are likely to be computerised in future. Similarly, there is a need to observe that whereas most researchers and scholars agree on the fact that technology will have a significant impact on employment levels in the economy, they disagree on the kind of jobs that will be greatly impacted. In his analysis on the impact of artificial intelligence on employment, the Economist (2016) observes that workers in the middle-skilled job category will be the most affected by the rising introduction of digital technology at the workplace. On the other contrary, Kaul (2016) argues that low skilled jobs such as drivers, warehouse workers and security officers will be quickly replaced by technology, leading to massive job losses among low-skilled labourers. Therefore, while there is an agreement among some scholars that digital technology will replace most human employees at the workplace, there is a disagreement on the kind of skills that would be easily replaced.


On the other hand, there are some researchers and scholars who argue that digital technology will have little impact on future employment across the globe. To begin with, both McAfee and Brynjolfsson agree that digital technology will not replace human employment in businesses and organisations across the globe (Brynjolfsson and McAfee 2015). In their argument, McAfee and Brynjolfsson observe that human beings are intelligent and as such, inasmuch as technology has found its way at the workplace, it has little chance of replacing human beings (Bernstein and Raman 2015). In this regard, Bernstein and Raman (2015) affirm that despite their ability to perform complex tasks, digital technology lacks aspects such as creativity and the ability to generate new business ideas, and as such, human beings are far ahead of technologies such robots and smart machines. Therefore, the workplace will continually require a human touch, which implies that human beings cannot be replaced at the workplace. Similarly, Ford (2015) observes that whereas there are concerns that technology will replace the human workforce through automation, this is not the case. On the contrary Ford (2015) affirms that whereas there are a number of jobs that have been replaced by technology, the number is insignificant and as such, it has little or no effect at all on the unemployment rate in the economy. This is particularly the case considering the fact that a significant number of jobs in the economy cannot be automated (Linden 2017).

另一方面,也有一些研究人员和学者认为,数字技术对全球未来就业几乎没有影响。首先,McAfee和Brynjolfsson都同意数字技术不会取代全球企业和组织中的人力就业(Brynjolfsson和McAfee 2015)。在他们的论点中,McAfee和Brynjolfsson观察到人类是聪明的,因此,随着技术在工作场所的发展,它几乎没有机会取代人类(Bernstein和Raman,2015)。在这方面,Bernstein和Raman(2015)确认,尽管数字技术具有执行复杂任务的能力,但缺乏创造力和产生新商业理念的能力,因此,人类远远领先于机器人和智能机器等技术。因此,工作场所将持续需要人的接触,这意味着人在工作场所是不可替代的。类似地,Ford(2015)观察到,尽管有人担心技术将通过自动化取代人力,但事实并非如此。相反,Ford(2015)确认,虽然有许多工作岗位已被技术所取代,但这一数字微不足道,因此,它对经济中的失业率几乎没有影响。考虑到经济中大量工作岗位无法实现自动化,情况尤其如此(Linden 2017)。

In addition, those who argue that digital technology will not displace human beings in the employment sector observe that rather than destroy jobs, digital technology plays a critical role in creating new opportunities across the globe. For example, in his analysis of digital technology in Europe, McGee (2018) observes that leading technologies such as Siemens has in the last few years increased its software development workforce from 17,500 employees in 2016 to 24,500 employees in 2018. Thus, rather than adopting different technologies in order to replace its workforce, this company has significantly increased its workforce, thus point to the fact that digital technology does not pose a risk to employment. In addition to this, Morikawa (2016) observes that there is a significant number of people who are going back to school to enhance their knowledge in different aspects and as such, these will play a critical role in generating new knowledge in future, and as such, they will create avenues for development of new types of jobs.


In conclusion, whereas there are concerns on its negative impact on future employment, digital technology plays a critical role in the development of new job opportunities, thus promoting the growth of employment openings in the economy. Notably, the current assumptions are that due to the rise in automation, technology threatens future employment. Whereas this is the case, there is a need to observe that the future will be driven by knowledge economy, which relies heavily on factors such as creativity, innovation and development of new business ideas. Arguably, despite their processing powers, digital technologies are incapable of achieving the level of creativity that human beings possess. Therefore, whereas the role of digital technology in the economy cannot be undermined, it has insignificant threat on future employment. Furthermore, the loss of jobs in the economy is mainly as a result of automation. Whereas this is the case, a significant portion of jobs in the economy cannot be automated, and as such, they cannot be impacted negative by digital technologies in anyway.