【 Webinar Series - Innovation, Productivity, and Challenges in the Digital Era: Asia and Beyond 】
Preparing for the (Non-Existent) Future of Work
Date: 8 Mar 2023 (Wed)
Time: 10am – 11:10am (Hong Kong Time, UTC+8)
Abstract: The authors analyze how to set up institutions that future-proof our society for a scenario of ever-more-intelligent autonomous machines that substitute for human labor and drive down wages. The authors lay out three concerns arising from such a scenario, culminating in the economic redundancy of labor, and evaluate recent predictions and objections to these concerns. Then they analyze how to allocate work and income if these concerns start to materialize. As the income produced by autonomous machines rises and the value of labor declines, the authors find that it is optimal to phase out work, beginning with workers who have low labor productivity and job satisfaction, since they have comparative advantage in enjoying leisure. This is in stark contrast to welfare systems that force individuals with low labor productivity to work. If there are significant wage declines, avoiding mass misery will require other ways of distributing income than labor markets, whether via sufficiently well-distributed capital ownership or via benefits. Recipients could still engage in work for its own sake if they enjoy work amenities such as structure, purpose, and meaning. If work gives rise to positive externalities such as social connections or political stability, or if individuals undervalue the benefits of work because of internalities, then there is a role for public policy to encourage work. However, the authors conjecture that in the long run, it would be more desirable for society to develop alternative ways of providing these benefits.
Anton KORINEK, Rubenstein Fellow, Brookings and Professor of Economics, Department of Economics and Darden School of Business, University of Virginia
Megan JUELFS, Associate Director, Research Initiatives, Institute for Business in Society, University of Virginia
Ben CHAROENWONG, Assistant Professor in Finance, NUS Business School, National University of Singapore
About the Webinar
Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, multilevel neural nets, the Internet of Things (IoT) and other digital technologies are transforming the world. They are strengthening innovation and productivity and innovation by rendering the future more predictable and reshaping individual, business, social, and government behavior. Asia leads the world in some of these endeavors, e.g., digital platforms. The OECD lists 40% of big new digital technologies as Asian. Almost half of global digital platform business-to-consumer revenues are Asian, versus only 22% from the U.S. and 12% from the Eurozone. Profound new policy challenges arising, in consequence, include: shifting skills demanded in labor markets and “digital divide” inequality, (ii) AI expanding financial inclusion or encoding inequality, expanding or obscuring accountability, increasing transparency or obscuring amoral decision-making, and (iii) digital privacy, unsanctionable on-line libel, misinformation, manipulation, and propaganda. The ABFER, therefore, plans a monthly e-seminar series spotlighting important new research, particularly the Asia-pacific related, into these issues and providing “state-of-the-art” overviews by prominent scholars. We hope policy makers and practitioners will find the e-seminars helpful and will alert researchers to issues needing attention.
ABFER, The Chinese University of Hong Kong-Zhejiang University Joint Research Center for Digital Economy, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Department of Economics and Center for Internet Development and Governance, Fanhai International School of Finance (FISF), Fudan University, National Tsing Hua University College of Technology Management and Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management (Tsinghua SEM)