Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Will Robots Change Work Comp?

My answer: I don't know.  Yet.  But I'm going to be reading the latest issue of Foreign Affairs to inform my view.  The issue is titled Hi, Robot - Work and Life in the Age of Automation.  Still not convinced you should run to your local book store and pick up a copy?  Here's the table of contents:

The Robots are Coming
How Technological Breakthroughs Will Transform Everyday Life
by Daniela Rus (Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT)

Will Humans Go the Way of the Horses?
Labor in the Second Machine Age
by Erik Brynjolfsson (Professor of Management Science at MIT's Sloan School of Business) and Andrew McAfee (Principal Research Scientist at MIT's Sloan School of Business)

Same as It Ever Was
Why the Techno-optimists Are Wrong
by Martin Wolf (former World Bank economist and chief economics commentator for the Financial Times)

The Coming Robot Dystopia
All Too Inhuman
by Illah Reza Nourbaksh (Professor of Robotics at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University)  

The Next Safety Net
Social Policy for a Digital Age
by Nicolas Colin (former senior civil servant in the French ministry for the Economy and Finance) and Bruno Palier (CNRS Research Director at the Center for European Studies)

I've not read all of the articles yet - the issue just arrived in my mailbox yesterday.  But these authors aren't light weights and Foreign Affairs isn't a trade rag.  These are serious insights from brilliant people provided in a well-respected setting.  We should be paying attention.   

And to give credit where credit is due, Jeff White of Accident Fund has been pushing all of us to think about these issues for a while now.  How will the nature of work change over the next 10 or 20 years?  How will the labor environment evolve?  Will technological advancement lead to significant unemployment?  What should we do now to prepare for the future of work?  

We need to be thinking about these questions and gathering insights from smart people both inside and outside of workers' compensation in order to properly prepare for what could be fundamental changes in the nature of work.  

Happy reading.

On Twitter @PRIUM1

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