Cognitive Automation Creates Jobs
The massive layoffs announced by large DAX and NYSE companies in the last years instill fear of unemployment. However, low levels of unemployment in the US, Germany and Switzerland show us that in fact the employment sector is doing well. This unveils a reality which we are getting used to seeing: many of the old signs of a healthy economy and the warnings for dangerous developments are not producing the same results as they did 20 to 30 years ago.
The rise of artificial intelligence technology and cognitive automation has many concerned that the working world will be unfairly impacted and disadvantaged. This parallels the late Industrial Revolution in its similar developments with the introduction of automated production lines. Many workers were replaced by robotic processes that did their work faster and often better. These developments are paired historically with the exploitation of laborers, a topic that has seen many violent fallouts in the last two hundred years.
In fact, human beings have a need to realise their full potential. No one likes to feel used or treated unfairly. Everyone likes to enjoy the product of their work and creative powers. People need not only the feeling of being in charge of themselves, they actually need the power to decide about themselves. Doing work has always helped people express and enhance their own dignity.
On the one hand, work has an objective dimension: it’s just human activity. Anyone can work. Everyone does stuff. Some work is more complex and difficult than other work. But work is just that: work. On the other hand, work has a more stable and transcendent dimension. It is that aspect of the human being when she or he realises that what’s being done is meaningful. Work can have a sense of purpose. Not just mindless activity, but productive and full of sense and purpose. Work’s real goal is the betterment of the person.
Now, if robotic and cognitive automated processes start taking over the work of people in our Age of Service, how can the betterment of people be possible? Won’t the same thing that took place throughout the Industrial Revolution happen in our technologically advanced workplaces? Cognitive automation will enrich the working world with new professions. It will be the opposite of what we’ve seen in the past. For example, professions that previously included reading through thousands of pages of documents to extract juicy content, sometimes only a few numbers or statements, were not always something that paralegals found meaningful. But feeding pre-processed and extracted information into reports that help make better decisions: that seems more meaningful.
People will appreciate the introduction of cognitive automated processes in their work. It may initially cause the loss of some jobs, but it will ultimately ennoble our workplaces. It will make sound decisions, fair competition, and challenging professions something we all look forward to. In the end, it will create more jobs, meaningful jobs, jobs that create a sense of purpose in the worker. We are on the cusp of a transformation of employment, and it is our common responsibility to not allow fear to drive a wedge between cognitive automation and the worker.