Rotman Management

AI, Automation and the Future of Work

AUTOMATION AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE are transforming businesses and will contribute significantly to economic growth via contributions to productivity. These technologies will transform the very nature of ‘work’ and the workplace itself. Machines will be able to carry out more of the tasks done by humans, complement the work that humans do, and even perform some tasks that go beyond what humans can do. As a result, some occupations will decline, others will grow, and many more will change.

While we believe there will be enough work to go around (barring extreme scenarios), society will need to grapple with significant workforce transitions and dislocation. Workers will need to acquire new skills and adapt to the increasingly capable machines alongside them in the workplace. They may have to move from declining occupations to growing and, in some cases, brand new ones.

In this article we will examine both the promise and the challenge of automation and AI in the workplace and outline some of the critical issues that policymakers, companies and individuals need to consider.

Opportunities Ahead

Automation and AI are not new, but recent technological progress is pushing the frontier of what machines can do. Our research suggests that society needs these improvements to provide value for businesses, contribute to economic growth, and make once unimaginable progress on some of our most difficult societal challenges. Following are some of the key opportunities that lie ahead.

Beyond traditional industrial automation and advanced robots, new generations of more capable autonomous systems are appearing in environments ranging from autonomous vehicles to automated check-outs in grocery stores. Much of this progress has been driven by improvements in systems and components, including mechanics, sensors and software. AI has

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