This document is thought to stimulate further discussion and is not a final presentation of the outcomes.
A publishable version will be created after the end of July to allow ample time for everyone to contribute their thoughts.
Automation and robotisation have created significant insecurity and uncertainty regarding their societal impact. Will we still have enough jobs? Will inequality increase? Will artificial intelligence steer and dominate our lives?
So far, automation does not seem to have generated massive adverse effects on labour markets. At the same time, it has not generated many benefits in the form of faster productivity growth, either (Gordon, 2016).
Job destruction has declined but inequality has increased:
What has increased, however, is inequality, especially within countries. Job polarisation has led to a fall in middle-class jobs and increased both jobs for high- and low-skilled people (Autor, 2016, Nubler, 2017).
Inequality and skills
New technologies open opportunities for entrepreneurs and workers to venture into new areas and jobs. At the same time, it creates the risk of leaving behind those who are unable or unwilling to adapt to these new openings. In previous decades of technological change, inequality has increased - if at all - only temporarily and new chances translated into prosperity shared by all. The question: Will this time be different?
Emphasising collective intelligence
Skill is hard to define. Difficult to reduce skill to something individual - can reside within a group. Co-leadership also means co-responsibility and thus it is hard to reduce things to individual levels.
Redefining skills and jobs
There are personal, cultural & collective skills. Redefining skills and work will drive different policies which are essential for structural change.
Ensuring moral alignment of autonomous tech
Need for AI designers and mechanical engineers to develop moral standards. AI should be a collaboration project, not a competition.
Job loss and supporting transitions
How can an ageing society cope with so much change? Is a younger society actually more apt at dealing with ever-faster developments?
Evolving education systems
Education is important but not necessarily traditional 12-year education, rather focus on core skills necessary to move ahead continuously. Information is free, coding is accessible to anyone.
- Improving basic STEM skills through school systems, put a new emphasis on critical as well as creative and systems thinking, and foster adaptive and life-long learning
- Skills-based (competency-based) learning, technical training to close gaps?
- Developing new ways to educate the broader public
- Retraining initiatives need to cover very basic skill sets as it is important to be prepared for different scenarios
- Taking care of the unlucky individuals is crucial as otherwise populism, discontent and chaos would rise further
- Current welfare states won't be able to save everyone, need to find new ways of financing the scenarios --> Taxing robots? Taxing companies?
- Basic revenue for learners?
Rethinking safety nets
As work evolves at higher rates of change between sectors, locations, activities, and skill requirements, many workers will need assistance adjusting. Many best-practice approaches to transition safety nets are available and should be adopted and adapted, and new approaches considered and tested. If automation (full or partial) does result in a significant reduction in employment or greater pressure on wages, some ideas such as universal basic income, conditional transfers, and adapted social safety nets could be considered and tested.
Development potential for emerging economies
Fragile or failed states are very different to Middle-Income Countries, therefore, we need more distinction here.
Leapfrogging to level the playing field
Focussing on new technologies with initial costs and big marginal gains will allow narrowing gaps if done right.
Is essential but hard to achieve. This change might help spur a new type of governance.
Focussing on job creation
Capturing the productivity benefits of technology. These can be harnessed to create the economic growth, surpluses, and demand for work that create room for creative solutions and ultimately benefit all. Accelerating the creation of jobs in general through stimulating investment in businesses, and accelerating the creation of digital jobs in particular - and digitally enabled opportunities to earn income. This includes new forms of entrepreneurship to move toward more self-employment. There's a lot of development potential in the service sector. Generally moving towards self-employment across all sectors.
Smart governance and international coordination
Tractably optimising international coordination
It is hard to overstate the importance of this option. Even though it will be difficult to achieve, there is no way around global governance with issues of global scale. The sooner we experiment with possible approaches, the sooner we will find out how to tractably improve global coordination. Coming up with actionable change is one thing - being listened to and having it implemented is a whole different question.
The coming wave of international challenges might cause enough of a stir to become an opportunity to reshape mindsets and redefine what a nation is and what international bodies do and what kind of responsibilities they carry respectively.
Creating new institutions
A new series of bodies specialised in different areas of the developments will be necessary to complement existing organisations. These institutions should focus on global, broadscale developments, such as education systems; R&D; healthcare; safety nets, tax systems.
It is not clear what should be done nor how it can be coordinated. We need to do R&D in many fields: (i) jobs (equivalents) in an automated society; (ii) which skills will stay in demand; (iii) regional idiosyncrasies and how to account for them; (iv) prioritisation research to understand what to tackle first; (v) effective approaches: institutional, economic or
Focussing on consequences
Researching the consequences of automation and figuring out how to optimise the job creation process is important. First ideas voiced were: (i) aligning economic incentives with public interest; (ii) changing our objective/identity as a society; (iii) changing the definition of a job
Creating proactive policy
We need policies to ensure that one individual doesn’t gain too much power through automation.
Exploring public-private partnerships
Investments in digital infrastructure would unlock digital benefits in many economies, both developing and developed; public-private partnerships could help address market failures. Furthermore, through tax benefits and other incentives, policy makers can encourage companies to invest in human capital, including job creation, learning and capability building, and wage growth. Driving training also could be key here. Companies face gaps in skills they need in a more technology-enabled workplace. They could benefit from playing a more active role in education and training, including providing better information about needs to learners and the education and training ecosystem and creating better learning opportunities.
Questions raised at the event
- To what extent are developments in emerging economies a political choice (wrt leapfrogging)?
- Who will lose most and by how much?
- Should one focus on preventing monopolies on AI/information to prevent single actors?
- How can an ageing society cope with so much change?
- Is a younger society actually more apt at dealing with ever-faster developments?
1. Tackle inequality, joblessness will take care of itself
- Taxing robots
- The impact of technology on the welfare state?
- International tax cooperation
- Breaking up monopolies created by AI and technological leaders
2. Skills for the world
- Anticipating skill needs
- Adapting education
- Focus on those who lose their jobs, prepare the transition
3. Make robots your allies, not your enemies
- Leapfrogging possibilities for developing economies
- New opportunities in services industries
- Need to create a level playing field across industries and countries