not limited to business; it made its way into
popular culture, as evidenced by the Spencer
Tracy/Katherine Hepburn film “Desk Set”
But the history of technology since then
suggests that the fear is usually exaggerated.
As Martin Ford said in his 2015 book “Rise
of the Robots: Technology and the Threat
of a Jobless Future”, the lesson of history is
that “the economy has consistently adjusted
to advancing technology by creating new
employment opportunities and that these
new jobs often require new skills and pay
Will history repeat itself when it comes
to artificial intelligence? Will those jobs
replaced by AI algorithms result in the cre-
ation of new, higher value roles and func-
tions in manufacturing companies? Or will
AI power a whole new wave of automation
that will result in what some term an “em-
ployment apocalypse” affecting not only
manufacturing but producing a political and
social crisis as well?
We may not know the answer to those
questions for some time, but what is likely to
happen is that some jobs will indeed go away
even as new ones are created. The key question is the balance between the two and how
adaptable individuals and companies can be.
There is reason to be optimistic and to
reject what Roosevelt called “nameless, un-
reasoning, unjustified terror”. Research by
MLC member UI Labs into emerging digital
jobs in manufacturing, for example, reveals
scores of new functions and roles that will
be needed in the digital economy. Frankly,
the real issue for the manufacturing indus-
try may not be in generating new jobs, but in
adapting to them and finding people to fill
them. – David R. Brousell
hen I think about artificial intelligence, particularly concerns about
its effect on jobs, I’m reminded what Franklin D. Roosevelt said at the
height of the Great Depression in his first inaugural address in March
of 1933: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.
Every generation of new technology confronts the fear of change.
Fear, by its nature, can often drown out hope and possibility. In the 1950s, for example, the introduction of mainframe computers caused fear about the loss of jobs. Fear at that time was
LEADERSHIP JOURNAL .................... ....................
Adaptability, not fear, is the key to operating in the era of AI.