Technology, digital, robotics: to change the world of work of tomorrow

A forum with @OCDE * _ * fr (OECD Forum 2016 #OECDwk) has just been held under the theme “Productive Economies, Inclusive Societies”; a timely issue as the global economy fails to recover from the aftermath of the 2008 crisis and is now at risk of falling into a recession accompanied by deflation and rising unemployment and precarious work .

One of the main messages of the trade unions (@TUACOECD) would be to “invest in quality public education and skills development, in order to create learning and training opportunities in a lifelong work situation” .

In this framework of analysis, the OECD advocates, therefore, adopting a new global approach to address the challenges of productivity and inequality.

New challenges

Entitled “The link between productivity and inclusiveness”, this OECD report (OECD-2016 Paris Publishing) analyzes the root causes of these two issues, examining the links between them and the means of responding to them in the context of an action. coherent by investing, inter alia, in individual skills.

The report also highlights the new challenges posed by the rise of the digital economy in terms of jobs and skills.

And, if the lack of adequate qualifications is combined with the lack of access to ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), the report predicts that the digital divide will continue.

Although the Internet will soon be ubiquitous, individuals who do not master ICTs will find themselves increasingly limited in access to many basic services, rewarding jobs, and opportunities to upgrade their training.

Current technological changes, including advances in artificial intelligence and massive data exploitation, could lead to disruptions that are out of step with those of the past.

Job Creation and School Mission

Without neglecting the problems related to the disappearance of certain jobs and the serious human and social problems that follow, we can not ignore that these innovations are full of promises for productivity growth and that they could create new jobs and , perhaps, not yet known.

One could, therefore, fear that with the digitization, a large part of the tasks, even certain jobs, which are so far entrusted to humans, could, in the near future, be assigned to machines.

This prediction thus fuels the fear that computers and robots will end up securing certain categories of human labor and that workers will not be competing with machines.

Digitization could therefore be seen as a key factor influencing the future of work over the coming decades, according to an OECD report published in June 2016.

Nevertheless, it is likely that workers who have the necessary skills to adapt to changes in their workplace will be less likely to be overwhelmed.

Innovations stimulated by digital technologies could also represent a potential for growth and social improvements in areas such as public administration, health, education and research. The creation of large volumes of data and the ability to extract knowledge and information (big data) would launch a new wave of innovation, the creation of new services, the emergence of new products and markets …

The management of employee skills will emerge as a key area for businesses to adapt to rapid technological change, supported by complementary public investments in education and training among others.

The school will, therefore, have the mission of preparing young people for an interconnected world where they will live with people of different origins and cultures, a “globalized” world certainly.

And the growing concern about the disruptive power of innovation, including its impact on employment, will need to be analyzed, detailed and treated humanely, fairly.

Robots and work

An “Industry 4.0” could unveil a different world of work. And in this new world, smart factories will work through machine empowerment.

Most of the concern about robots has focused on job losses in developed economies. That said, there could be a “relocation” of low-skilled jobs to countries that own robots.

Robots made their appearance in the industry, originally in the automotive sector, in the 1960s. For decades, industrial robots were bulky, expensive, powered from static positions in the interior.and performed a small number of repetitive, sometimes dangerous, tasks such as welding and machining.

With advances in digital and other technologies, a second generation of robots has emerged. Less bulky and expensive, more autonomous, flexible and cooperative, they are programmable and can be used by workers without special qualifications. Robots can play, too, new roles in services, health (surgical operations), education, training, business information, services for the elderly …

The market for personal and household service robots is growing year by year (20% per year), while prices are expected to fall in the near future.

Smarter and more autonomous robots will emerge thanks, among other things, to the improvements that are currently underway in a number of areas, computing performance, electromechanical design tools and numerically controlled machines, storage of electrical energy and efficiency power electronics, availability and performance of local digital (wireless) communications, scale and performance of the Internet and data storage capabilities and computing power …

Challenges of course remain, particularly in the areas of perception, the recognition of specific objects in congested environments, manipulation and cognition.

In the commercial and industrial field, in addition to improving the reliability of processes, robots can already reduce the manufacturing time of finished products and thus increase responsiveness to variations in retail demand. .

Children and machines

A “Talk together” at the Forum @OCDE_en 2016, _ “Teaching & learning with robots” was able to bring together Nao, a humanoid robot and a group of students from a Sèvres class. The students were particularly interested and questions and questions did not fail …Here are some reactions from children by Catherine Potter-Jadas, Head of Primary, Sections Internationales de Sèvres:

“At the moment, the robot can not replace teachers because, in countries like France, children are too immature and because they have a real need for human control. A robot can not have authority.

“I found it quite amazing and fabulous that technology is capable of doing such things. The people who built Nao must be very proud of their invention. I think it’s great that a robot helps kids in schools. They find it interesting and become more open. “

“I think Nao could really be useful for education.”

“I think the robot gives way to improvement (in class) and it’s funny! When the presenter said, “Nao can carry at least a wooden spoon, he has flexed his muscles! “… I liked the way the robot laughed and showed his muscles, it made me think of a strange little creature.”

Gabriela Ramos, Cabinet Director of the Secretary-General and Sherpa of the OECD at the G20 / G7, concludes this article:

In order to consider public action in a more global way, it is necessary to radically change the institutional and public governance structures, in order to strengthen the capacity of States to release synergies and make the necessary arbitrations. In highly unequal societies, governments also need to address political economy issues, including the diversion of regulatory and policy processes by elites who benefit from the status quo, and policies that favor existing actors. As difficult as they are, these changes are necessary. We believe in the OECD that it is time to better understand the interactions between two of today’s key issues – productivity and inequality – in order to build a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable future.

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