Friday, 5 April 2019

Automation and the future of work > How secure are East Devon's new warehousing jobs?

The question disturbing a lot of policy-makers is to what extent robots will 'take over' the world of work:
Futures Forum: "AI will start creating more jobs than it destroys by 2020"
Futures Forum: Artificial Intelligence: how can technology help humanity?

One issue is how this will impact the low-wage economy.

This is from a posting from this blog from October: 

Power-relations and control > "Who will own the future?" > on Artificial Intelligence, Universal Basic Income and the potential threats from automation

The futures promised by AI are pretty wide-ranging:
Futures Forum: Artificial Intelligence: how can technology help humanity?
Futures Forum: Synthetic Biology’s “Project Fear”
Futures Forum: 2001: A Space Odyssey > the unfulfilled promises of science fiction
Futures Forum: Brexit: and robots looking after us in our old age
Futures Forum: Artificial Intelligence: is it humanity's greatest 'existential risk'?

One of the key issues is that of work:
Futures Forum: Creating/destroying jobs >>> Creative Destruction and Artificial Intelligence
Futures Forum: Artificial Intelligence: 'complements labor and increases its productivity'
Futures Forum: Technological unemployment and the Luddite fallacy

With the threat of us all losing our jobs comes the idea of the Universal Basic Income:
Futures Forum: Universal Basic Income: the libertarian argument for
Futures Forum: Universal Basic Income @ Radio 4's In Business

Futures Forum: Power-relations and control > "Who will own the future?" > on Artificial Intelligence, Universal Basic Income and the potential threats from automation

Because Exeter and East Devon councils have heavily invested in warehousing jobs:
Futures Forum: The promises from the Skypark 'business park' >>> "A multinational comes along and plonks itself just out of town. Hooray, they tell us... Jobs for all!"
Futures Forum: The Exeter Gateway intermodal logistics site ... "Sainsbury's confirms it will not progress with huge distribution centre near Exeter."
Futures Forum: Sidford business park >>> County Council's Highways objection to the plan focuses on the distribution element - and could ‘play straight into the developers hands’

But this is the future of warehousing - in China - with not a soul in sight:

JD.com Fully Automated Warehouse in Shanghai - YouTube

The Herald reports on new central government statistics looking at the vulnerability of low-paid work to automation: 

Almost 42,000 East Devon jobs are at risk of being replaced by robots

04 April 2019

Sam Cooper, Miguel Rodriguez

You could soon be replaced by a robot as data reveals two out of every five jobs in East Devon could be lost to automation.

The data, measured in 2017 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows that 42,000 jobs in the area could be partially or totally replaced by machines over the coming years. This equates to 44 per cent of occupations and of them, 9% of them are at high risk meaning they have a more than 70% chance of being replaced by machines.

The threat was medium for a further 60 per cent of jobs as the chances of automation are between 30 and 70 per cent.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) says technology will replace some occupations but will also bring new and more technical jobs.

East Devon was less vulnerable to the impact of automation in 2017 than six years earlier when 49 per cent of jobs were at risk of being replaced by machines.

The ONS analysed the jobs of 20 million people across England in 2017 and found that 7.4 per cent were at high risk of being replaced.

70 per cent of the roles at high risk of automation are currently held by women.

People aged 20 to 24 years old are most likely to be at risk of having their job replaced and low-skilled occupations, like waiting or shelf stacking, face the highest risk.

Jobs requiring higher qualifications, such as medical practitioners and higher education teachers, are less susceptible to computerisation.

An ONS spokesperson said: “The exact reasons for the decrease in the proportion of roles at risk of automation are unclear but it is possible that automation of some jobs has already happened. Additionally, while the overall number of jobs has increased, the majority of these are in occupations that are at low or medium risk suggesting that the labour market may be changing to jobs that require more complex and less routine skills.”

Felicity Burch, the CBI’s director of innovation and digital, said technology is predominantly putting jobs held by women and low-skilled occupations at risk.

She said: “The picture is complicated, as ONS’s own analysis shows that some of the roles most at risk of automation saw a boost in recent years. Furthermore, we know that the more businesses invest in new technology, the more likely they are to create new roles.


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