Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

[op-ed snap] Two myths about automation


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development and employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of Automation

Mains level: Automation is an important topic of discussion these days because of its affect on jobs. This article supports automation and suggests some measures which can lessen the affects of it.


What is automation?

  1. Automation can be defined as the technology by which a process or procedure is performed without human assistance
  2. In other words, Automation or automatic control, is the use of various control systems for operating equipment such as machinery, processes in factories, boilers and heat treating ovens, switching on telephone networks, steering and stabilization of ships, aircraft and other applications and vehicles with minimal or reduced human intervention, with some processes have been completely automated

Reports on Automation

  1. According to a report, Automation Will Eliminate 9% Of US Jobs in 2018
  2. And one-third Of US workers could be jobless by 2030 due to Automation
  3. Reports like these leave the impression that technological progress and job destruction are accelerating dramatically (First Myth)
  4. But there is no evidence of either trend

Are jobs really at risk?

  1. Everyone thinks they know is that previously safe jobs are now at risk (second myth)
  2. Once upon a time, it was possible to argue that robots would displace workers engaged in routine tasks, but not the highly skilled and educated
  3. In particular, machines, are not capable of tasks in which empathy, compassion, intuition, interpersonal interaction, and communication are central
    Automation in law
  4. Machines are already more efficient than legal associates at searching for precedents
  5. But an attorney attuned to the personality of her client still plays an indispensable role in advising someone contemplating a messy divorce whether to negotiate, mediate, or go to court
  6. Likewise, an attorney’s knowledge of the personalities of the principals in a civil suit or a criminal case can be combined with Big Data and analytics when the time comes for jury selection
  7. The job is changing, not disappearing
    Automation in medical field
  8. It’s not that nurses’ aides are being replaced by healthcare robots; rather, what nurses’ aides do is being redefined
  9. And what they do will continue to be redefined as those robots’ capabilities evolve from getting patients out of bed to giving physical therapy sessions and providing emotional succour to the depressed and disabled
  10. Thus, the coming technological transformation won’t entail occupational shifts on the scale of the Industrial Revolution
  11. Important concern: But it will be more important than ever for people of all ages to update their skills and renew their training continuously, given how their occupations will continue to be reshaped by technology

What is the real problem?

  1. In the US, board membership for workers’ representatives, strong unions, and government regulation of private-sector training are not part of the prevailing institutional formula
  2. As a result, firms treat their workers as disposable parts, rather than investing in them (for their skill development)
  3. And government does nothing about it

What is the solution?

  1. Instead of a “tax reform” that allows firms to expense their capital outlays immediately, why not give companies tax credits for the cost of providing lifelong learning to their employees?
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