The Future of Work – Skills for the Modern Economy

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada


Draft – For discussion purposes only; does not represent the views of the G7 or its members. This discussion paper was drafted to guide the discussion during the breakout sessions at the December 6, 2018, G7 Multistakeholder Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Montreal, Canada.

Executive Summary

In this paper, we highlight some of the issues of the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the future of work. First, we acknowledge the advances of AI-based technologies as well as the anisotropy of progress along the various sectors of human activities. Pushed by technological advances and massive investment, AI is introducing asymmetries which are transforming the job market in content as well as in location.

We consider the technological aspects in depth as often the common perception of AI is misaligned with the effective technical readiness level. This is typically the case with any new technology. We devote a section to the analysis of the major limitations of present-day AI including the need of large amounts of annotated data, of massive computational power and the effort required to apply AI to each new problem/domain. We describe the potential of AI technology and potential (sometimes actual) application areas ranging from data analytics, robotics, engineering, genetics, climate change analysis, etc.

With respect to impact to the job market, it is clear that AI already brings tangible benefits for certain businesses and improved service levels to consumers. On the other hand, there is not a unique interpretation of how things will evolve. Predicting technology diffusion and, especially its impact, hinges on a variety of exogenous factors including further technological advances to overcome existing limitations but also political and economic factors (regulations, availability of funding, cost vs. benefit aspects, etc.). Our analysis about the risks and benefits of AI on work and employment relies on the assumption that in most contexts, we will have to consider the challenges of achieving true complementarity between human and machine through organizational choices and continuous learning.

Under any possible scenario, the deployment of AI systems will lead to rethinking work organization ensuring that individuals develop continuously their learning capacities.

We conclude with a series of recommendations for the effective management of AI, which can be summarized as follows:

Discussion Paper: The Future of Work (PDF, 553 KB)

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