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Threat of AI Displacing Jobs is Real, Says Telecom Secretary

On aggregate, the employability for new-age jobs is on average 1.7 per cent, showed the findings based on more than 170,000 Indian engineering students

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"A tectonic shift is happening in AI. Nearly 85 per cent of enterprises globally will use AI in some form or the other by 2020.

While digitisation has delivered great benefits to the country, the threat of automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) displacing jobs is real, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said on Monday.

“Adoption of digital technology has proved to be a great democratiser and leveller in India, especially in doing away with many hierarchies in the Indian economy. But digital is also throwing up as many challenges. There are no easy answers to them,” Sundararajan said, while delivering the keynote address at a conference on “future of the digital economy” here.

“There are various estimates about the rate at which jobs are becoming irreverent – from 10 per cent to a high of 70 per cent. So this threat is real,” she said while referring the rise of AI.

With dangers of job losses looming large, can providing universal basic income be the answer?

“The idea of providing universal basic income is gaining ground because a lot of Silicon Valley leaders are pushing for it,” she said.

Participating at a separate panel discussion, Sanjeev Bikchandani, Co-Founder of Info Edge which runs the job portal Naukri.com, said that there will be no large scale job losses due to AI.

AI has the potential to increase India's annual growth.
AI has the potential to increase India’s annual ggrowth.Pixabay“Some jobs will definitely go. But this happens all the time with new technology arriving. Similar questions were raised when computers were introduced in India. AI will create new industries,” he said at the conference co-organised by Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and Data Catalyst, a non-profit organisation.

 

But do Indians have the skill set for the new jobs that may be created by the new industries?

According to a new report released last week by job skills assessments company Aspiring Minds, over 80 per cent Indian engineers are unemployable for any job in the knowledge economy.

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A mere three per cent engineers have new-age technological skills in areas like AI, Machine Learning, Data Science and mobile development, the report said.

On aggregate, the employability for new-age jobs is on average 1.7 per cent, showed the findings based on more than 170,000 Indian engineering students. (IANS)

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ILO Calling for Revisions to Address Physical, Psychological Problems Stemming from Changing Job World

U.N. labor agency says existing methods of protecting workers from accidents and disease are not good enough to deal with new occupational hazards arising from changes in the nature of work

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FILE - A worker programs a tablet to control SAM, a semi-automated mason, as it works on the facade of a school in the south Denver suburb of Englewood, Colorado, Feb. 27, 2018. VOA

The U.N. labor agency says existing methods of protecting workers from accidents and disease are not good enough to deal with new occupational hazards arising from changes in the nature of work. The International Labor Organization (ILO) is calling for revisions to address physical and psychological problems stemming from the changing job world.

In a new report, ILO estimates find 2.78 million workers die from occupational accidents and work-related diseases each year. It says more than 374 million people are injured or fall ill every year through work-related accidents. The cost to the world economy from work days lost is nearly four percent of global Gross Domestic Product.

The ILO’s report warns the changes and dangers posed by an increase in technology could result in a worsening of that situation. It says new measures must be implemented to deal with the psycho-social risks, work-related stress and non-communicable diseases resulting from new forms of work.

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FILE – Technicians make final inspections to vehicles on an assembly line at the Nissan Canton Assembly Plant, in Canton, Mississippi, March 19, 2018. VOA

It says digitization, artificial intelligence, robotics and automatization require new monitoring methods to protect workers.

Manal Azzi, an ILO Technical Specialist on Occupational Safety and Health, says that on the one hand, new technology is freeing workers from many dirty, dangerous jobs. On the other, she says, the jobs can raise ethical concerns.

She told VOA surveillance of workers has become more intrusive, leading them to work longer hours, a situation that may not be ethical.

“Also, different monitoring systems that workers wear. Before, you would punch in, punch out. Now, you could wear bands on your wrist that show how many hours you are actually working in a production line. And, there is even discussion of introducing implants, where workers can be continuously surveyed on their production processes,” she said.

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ILO estimates find 2.78 million workers die from occupational accidents and work-related diseases each year. Wikimedia

Azzi said a host of mental problems could be introduced by new work environments. The report also focuses on changes in demographics. It says employers have to adapt to the physical needs of older workers, who may need training to safely operate equipment.

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Another area of concern is climate change. The ILO is positive about the green jobs being introduced. But it says care must be taken to protect people from warmer temperatures that increase risks, including air pollution, heat stress, and newly emerging diseases.

In the past, creating a safer working environment focused on the prevention of risks. Authors of the report say the ILO today needs to anticipate the risks. They say new skills and information about safety and health in the workplace have to be learned at an earlier age. Before young people apply for a job, they say, they should know their rights. The power of knowledge, they say, will help protect employees in the workplace. (VOA)