AI-fueled automation may well exacerbate the iniquities that already burden India’s workers.
Rahul Menon, Associate Professor, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Technological change is an indelible aspect of modern economic growth. While in the short run, economies might grow by accumulating capital and labour, healthy long-term growth cannot occur without sustained technological improvements. This enables economies to generate more output from a given amount of productive factors, either by designing new products or by innovating new ways to produce the same output. However, technological change has also been accompanied by significant anxieties: The fear of displacement of labour, unemployment and rising inequality being chief among them.
These anxieties and expectations have become turbocharged in recent weeks, with the release of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence language tool developed by OpenAI.
Artificially intelligent tools represent powerful innovations that can help spur growth and generate new kinds of jobs but also displace existing human labour by automating processes that earlier required human workers.
Given India and the global economy facing significant headwinds — such as slowing growth, rising inflation and inequality — we require urgent study and significant policy interventions to realise the promises and prevent the threats of automation.
There exists significant academic literature on the impact of automation on employment and inequality. The ability to mechanise parts of the production process is easier when these tasks are largely routine and do not require cognitive thinking or person-to-person contact. The introduction of robots in factories reduced the need for factory workers. Simultaneously, economies saw an expansion of low-paid service sector workers in jobs that retained a significant aspect of human interaction — such as restaurant workers — since these jobs cannot easily be automated.
Published in: Deccan Herald
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