Automation: a battle between work and technology

The only person’s confidence in the future is that it is not written. Not in a space that lives as closely as work. This new economy, dictated by algorithms, automated processes and robots, is driven by population, be it right or wrong, more fear than hope. Unreliability, low wages, unemployment. This is a promise that millions of people around the world fear. Fear is not new, because robots have transformed the Western economy for centuries. David Ricardo, one of the founders of economic thought, wrote about the destructive effects of machines in 1821. We have lived with “robots” for centuries and have perfected our world for centuries.

Perhaps the feeling of helplessness today comes from the relationship between space and time. This is the speed. The transformation of the agrarian society into an industrial society was linear; current acceleration is exponential. “In the next few years, the economy will face a wave of automation,” predicts Olli Buston, CEO of Future Advocacy Consulting.

Countless studies tell this story, sometimes apocalyptic, sometimes integrated. The OECD has been the same average for two years in a row. 14% of jobs in the 36 richest countries in the world are likely to be automated. Spain figures dance in the wire 21.7%. The percentage of ceba, in particular, education, which fails in the early stages and in adults. The Spaniards will have to sit at their desks throughout their working lives.Take this Saturday, May 25th, Retina magazine, free with EL PAÍS

Report 2014 analytical center Belgian Bruegel foresaw a much greater danger, 55.3%. This figure, which can be genetically applied to a person, for example, was able to delineate boundaries., a Chinese e-commerce platform, opened a center in Shanghai last year that processes 200,000 orders per day with four employees. Is this the company we want? Amazon Go has already opened several stores in the United States without any dependents. The image of the biggest revolution in the retail business in recent decades.

But do we strive for this loneliness of words and people in such a fundamental act of the human condition? “The negative impact of technology on the future of work is a choice, not an inevitable thing,” says Tim O’Reilly nicknamed “Oracle of Silicon Valley” by Inc. Inc., a Web 2.0 member and innovative software. is free. “This is what I call the basic algorithm the value of a shareholder who sees people as a value that needs to be reduced, and not as an asset that needs to be increased.” Although it adds hope: “When I look around from me, and I see all the work that we have to do as a person (climate change, refugees, care for an aging population), I know that if we use technologies correctly, we can solve these problems. problems and let everyone work. “

Perhaps we should place the future in an imaginary city halfway between Arcadia and anti-utopia. Comala Argentine writer and journalist Andres Oppenheimer, Pulitzer Prize winner in 1987 for his investigations that revealed the Iran-Contra scandal, includes robots as enemies of work. His latest book, Robots go !: The future of jobs in the automation era Gets insight panic. In translation, it will be something like this. Chapter 4: They come for the bankers! “Chapter 5: They come for lawyers! They attack hospitals: They come for doctors! They go to Hollywood: They go for the artists!, Behind this cascade of exclamations, certainty overwhelms. “Robotization reaches places we have never thought of. This applies not only to routine work, but also to others. [expertos en finanzas, médicos, contables] knowledge-intensive, “notes Emilio Ontiviros.

However, during this transitional period, characterized by complexity, chaos and contradictions, the World Economic Forum went through this uncertain topography, and its calculations are closer to Arcadia than to injustice. By 2022, 133 million jobs will be created, and 75 million will be lost. Data analysts, experts in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and general and operational directors.

The refusal of those who are dedicated to entering numbers, accountants, administrators and secretaries or secretaries. “The increase in employment will occur in predominantly unprofessional, highly skilled and more abstract occupations than those that require little skills, need manual labor or interpersonal communication,” said Rafael Domenech, director of economic analysis. from BBVA Research. “Of course, we are far from thinking about the apocalyptic scenarios of mass technological breakthroughs.”

Outdated education

In this troubled world, schools, offices, and offices talk without listening. 72% of large Spanish companies have difficulty covering the jobs they offer. This sentence, written in just 17 words and reflecting the report of the IESE business school, demonstrates aluminum disease, which suffers from the fundamentals of education in Spain. “Many companies lack communication profiles, STEM has an excess of social sciences and a career lack [ciencia, tecnología, ingeniería y matemáticas]“ Maria Louise Blasquez, one of the creators of this work, appears. Imbalance, which is not surprising. Spanish training brought the benefits of the theory and created the practice.

In the field of critical thinking, for example, Spain, according to the World Economic Forum, is 101st out of 140 countries. Companies are looking for talents and find absence. “On the digital planet, we need people with the ability to learn quickly, who will even more quickly forget what they learned if it becomes an obstacle to making news,” said Francisco Perez Botello, general manager of Volkswagen. A company competing in the radical sector of radical technology.

How to train

Behind this cold, the polaroid , which confuses the memory of who we are and the desire for what we need, the question that challenges the relationship between work, education and technology in the 21st century, has been exhausted. Should companies dictate their programs to avoid gaps? “Young people need to be taught not to become employees, but to develop their best creative skills in society,” says philosopher Fernando Savater. “It’s good that they mean possible jobs, but not that they are slaves to the most practical myth and abandon their curiosity and their vocation.”

The reflection is exact, like a platonic body. But how to adapt when Spanish children under the age of 25 have an average unemployment rate of 33.5%. Maybe look elsewhere. “I advise my young students that if they have a strong vocation for activity, they follow it without thinking about economic conditions, but if this is not the case – as is the case in most things – they should think about employment opportunities”, recommends Educator Jose Antonio Marina. Well, the world is becoming more and more competitive, more and more demanding. “Robots and algorithms are fundamental to work, and employees and companies are trying to figure out how to handle these 12 Hercules tasks.

But there is one significant change. We have moved from lifelong learning to lifelong employment, ”said Leo Cano, founder of BrainLang, a startup that protects the value of teaching English throughout life. time.

New employment models

Man today is a traveler to a new world of work. For example, digital work platforms have enormous power of change. They spray the market, and new technologies automate a lot of work and tasks. This is something new. These are new factories of the 21st century.

The answer is to a collective imagination in which useless habits, physical location and space win in a society that wants to work less hours and who says that free time is the main condition of freedom. If robots can do the work, because the workers will have more hours of rest? On the other hand, non-traditional forms of employment (freelancers, telework, economic platforms on demand) are growing, companies outsource more tasks than ever before, while intermediate digital structures between them 39, demand and supply for talent appear. All in the world competition.

Everything is a start. Only 1% to 3% of the workforce generates its income through digital platforms. “But its growth potential is enormous,” predicts Albert Canyigeral, the connector of the OuiShare joint platform for Spain and Latin America. “We are moving towards a more intermittent job scenario, and the challenge is to guarantee the rights and needs of these workers.”


Little by little, this universe, which still leaves many traces of dark matter, defines its architecture. We found microtraders on platforms with small online tasks (Amazon Mechanical Turk), as well as on-demand employees ( concert workers ) who ride or cycle in Uber or Glovo. Places related to non-standard

But at the same time, there is a tour to other positions. For example, a blue collar (CornerJob, Job Today) or a highly specialized white collar (UpWork, Freelancer, Toptal or GLG). “This type of professional network will expand significantly,” said Vicente de los Rios, a professor at EOI Business School. Without a doubt, the new world of labor revolves, driven by its own contradictions. Spain ranks first in the European Union in terms of employment on the platform. 17% of people of working age hold events there at least once a week. “And these are not such profiles as Uber, but mostly professionals who have a permanent job and perform tasks of specific qualifications,” analysis Maria Luz Rodriguez, professor of labor law at the university. from Castilla La Mancha.

This face vinyl, face b offers other music in a country where, according to SEPE, 37.2% of contracts signed before March had a duration of less than one month. “Digitization and automation in Spain is aimed at transforming employees into suppliers, calculating salaries into bills, and social protection for capitalization. Because companies do not want more employees, ”- criticizes Carlos Martin, who is responsible for the Central Committee of the NGO Economic Office.

Digital Syndicates

Technology sometimes tells a paradoxical story. She can make a repair request for what she broke herself. This may push, for example, outsourcing to the limit. The work is distributed worldwide, and it is easy to break it into hundreds of micro-tars. A way to lead people to predatory proposals, to the microboard and to eliminate instability. Result? Employees are dispersed, geographically isolated and do not have trade union power. Faced with this, the technology itself offers WorkerTech. “Using technology to create movements to protect the interests of workers,” said Maria Lus Rodriguez.

Everything, at the moment, is covered with silk threads. Digital networks, such as Riders x rights, the Independent Workers Union or the Independent Drivers Guild (drivers, New York), still have the same consistency. Social protection may be more related to SomosMuno-style sentences. Agency for the insurance of jobs on the Internet, focused on the self-employed. All problems of self-employment seem to be solved numerically. “The challenge on the horizon is to combine the flexibility and freedom of work in their own right with the protection and benefits traditionally associated with paid work or employment.” in the field of the digital labor market The work will be discussed jointly developed by OuiShare and Malt.

But is it possible to break a synonym that corresponds to insecurity and self-employment? “In a detailed report that I wrote for the International Labor Organization (ILO), I argue that platforms typically use workers with standard skills, so offers such as Uber to exploit their pilots rather than empower them,” Sangit Paul Choudary, founder of Platformation Labs. In fact, technology allows products to “have a lot of knowledge, and we need to retrain them if we want to be relevant in the new world.” Otherwise, the platforms exacerbate the problem. Legislation recently approved by the European Parliament, which aims to protect Employees in these conditions recognize the same fear.

New social contract

Tyler Cowen, a professor of economics at George Mason University in Virginia, warns about the slow pace of “the education system’s response to profound changes.”

It took a person decades to adapt to the serious transformations between failure and success. But we must reverse technological determinism. “We need to hold a public and democratic debate about how we want our working society to be the way we take advantage of and how we put barriers to risk. A new social contract is needed, ”says Maria Lous Rodriguez.

This happens in a world that is no longer divided between right and left, and between open and closed. Will we accept technological changes or reject them? We live in the best of times. We live in the worst moments.

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