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自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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NYTとEconomist

 
今週のEconomistでは社説とBriefingでIT技術による労働へのインパクトです。Briefingでの歴史的考察はさすがだなと思います。ニューヨークタイムズのトマスフリードマンのコラムとかぶる部分も合ったので絡めてご紹介します。

(Leader)
Technology and jobs
Coming to an office near you
The effect of today’s technology on tomorrow’s jobs will be immense—and no country is ready for it
Jan 18th 2014 | From the print edition

(Briefing)
The future of jobs
The onrushing wave
Previous technological innovation has always delivered more long-run employment, not less. But things can change
Jan 18th 2014 | From the print edition

Economistの書き方は堅めなので、フリードマンの分かりやすい切り口のコラムを先に読んでみたいと思います。

Thomas Friedman
If I Had a Hammer
JAN. 11, 2014

MY favorite story in Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee’s fascinating new book, “The Second Machine Age,” is when the Dutch chess grandmaster Jan Hein Donner was asked how he’d prepare for a chess match against a computer, like I.B.M.’s Deep Blue. Donner replied: “I would bring a hammer.”

Donner isn’t alone in fantasizing that he’d like to smash some recent advances in software and automation — think self-driving cars, robotic factories and artificially intelligent reservationists — which are not only replacing blue-collar jobs at a faster rate, but now also white-collar skills, even grandmasters!

フリードマンは例えの切れ味が鋭いですよね。トピックを象徴して、多くを案じさせる例えを見つけるのは大変です。人間とコンピュータとのチェス対決の例を挙げることで、機械化、自動化の流れは知的労働に及ぶことが想像しやすくなります。

冒頭にあるようにこのエッセイはThe Second Machine Ageという本の紹介がメインです。いきなり結論をひいてしまいますが、We’re in a technological hurricane reshaping the workplace — and it just keeps doubling.という表現で機械化・自動化がものすごい勢いでくることを表現しています。

Put all these advances together, say the authors, and you can see that our generation will have more power to improve (or destroy) the world than any before, relying on fewer people and more technology. But it also means that we need to rethink deeply our social contracts, because labor is so important to a person’s identity and dignity and to societal stability. They suggest that we consider lowering taxes on human labor to make it cheaper relative to digital labor, that we reinvent education so more people can “race with machines” not against them, that we do much more to foster the entrepreneurship that invents new industries and jobs, and even consider guaranteeing every American a basic income. We’ve got a lot of rethinking to do, they argue, because we’re not only in a recession-induced employment slump. We’re in a technological hurricane reshaping the workplace — and it just keeps doubling.

リンク先のEconomistの表紙を見ていただくと、なぜフリードマンのエッセイを紹介したのか分かっていただけると思います。まあ、Technology’s impact will feel like a tornado, hitting the rich world first, but eventually sweeping through poorer countries too.とEconomistの社説ではhurricaneではなくtornadoになっていますが。。。

Remember Ironbridge
Optimism remains the right starting-point, but for workers the dislocating effects of technology may make themselves evident faster than its benefits (see article). Even if new jobs and wonderful products emerge, in the short term income gaps will widen, causing huge social dislocation and perhaps even changing politics. Technology’s impact will feel like a tornado, hitting the rich world first, but eventually sweeping through poorer countries too. No government is prepared for it.

Why be worried? It is partly just a matter of history repeating itself. In the early part of the Industrial Revolution the rewards of increasing productivity went disproportionately to capital; later on, labour reaped most of the benefits. The pattern today is similar. The prosperity unleashed by the digital revolution has gone overwhelmingly to the owners of capital and the highest-skilled workers. Over the past three decades, labour’s share of output has shrunk globally from 64% to 59%. Meanwhile, the share of income going to the top 1% in America has risen from around 9% in the 1970s to 22% today. Unemployment is at alarming levels in much of the rich world, and not just for cyclical reasons. In 2000, 65% of working-age Americans were in work; since then the proportion has fallen, during good years as well as bad, to the current level of 59%.

Economistは企業エグゼクティブや政府高官向けのためか、この流れが少数の資本家に富が集中し、中産階級以下は職にあぶれてしまい社会不安が起こす可能性があることを心配しています。確かに、以下のような具体的な数字を見ると、新技術は新しい産業を生み出すかもしれませんが、ずっとすくない人数ですむようになるので、この動きが社会全体に広がれば失業問題が深刻化しそうです。

Until now the jobs most vulnerable to machines were those that involved routine, repetitive tasks. But thanks to the exponential rise in processing power and the ubiquity of digitised information (“big data”), computers are increasingly able to perform complicated tasks more cheaply and effectively than people. Clever industrial robots can quickly “learn” a set of human actions. Services may be even more vulnerable. Computers can already detect intruders in a closed-circuit camera picture more reliably than a human can. By comparing reams of financial or biometric data, they can often diagnose fraud or illness more accurately than any number of accountants or doctors. One recent study by academics at Oxford University suggests that 47% of today’s jobs could be automated in the next two decades.

At the same time, the digital revolution is transforming the process of innovation itself, as our special report explains. Thanks to off-the-shelf code from the internet and platforms that host services (such as Amazon’s cloud computing), provide distribution (Apple’s app store) and offer marketing (Facebook), the number of digital startups has exploded. Just as computer-games designers invented a product that humanity never knew it needed but now cannot do without, so these firms will no doubt dream up new goods and services to employ millions. But for now they are singularly light on workers. When Instagram, a popular photo-sharing site, was sold to Facebook for about $1 billion in 2012, it had 30m customers and employed 13 people. Kodak, which filed for bankruptcy a few months earlier, employed 145,000 people in its heyday.

近代学校教育が工場労働者を養成することを念頭においていたとしたら、IT技術で経済構造が変化するのに合わせて教育システムも変更しないといけないでしょう。Economistは以下のような教育を提案しています。less rote-learning and more critical thinkingなんてのは日本の教育システムだけではなく、どの国も感じていることのようです。

The main way in which governments can help their people through this dislocation is through education systems. One of the reasons for the improvement in workers’ fortunes in the latter part of the Industrial Revolution was because schools were built to educate them—a dramatic change at the time. Now those schools themselves need to be changed, to foster the creativity that humans will need to set them apart from computers. There should be less rote-learning and more critical thinking. Technology itself will help, whether through MOOCs (massive open online courses) or even video games that simulate the skills needed for work.

The definition of “a state education” may also change. Far more money should be spent on pre-schooling, since the cognitive abilities and social skills that children learn in their first few years define much of their future potential. And adults will need continuous education. State education may well involve a year of study to be taken later in life, perhaps in stages.

Briefingではより詳しくこの動向について分析してくれています。本文は読まなくても以下の表は目を通しておいた方がいいかもしれません。今後20年間でコンピュータに取って代わられる可能性のある仕事だそうです。Technical Writerが0.89という高い可能性で載っていますので、マニュアル翻訳の仕事も近いうちになくなってしまうかもしれません(滝汗)

また、今回のBriefingはベンチャー企業を特集したSpecial Reportにつながるようです。

And although Mr Brynjolfsson and Mr McAfee rightly point out that developing the business models which make the best use of new technologies will involve trial and error and human flexibility, it is also the case that the second machine age will make such trial and error easier. It will be shockingly easy to launch a startup, bring a new product to market and sell to billions of global consumers (see article). Those who create or invest in blockbuster ideas may earn unprecedented returns as a result.




さらに雑誌Atlanticの先月号によれば、職業だけではなく、雇用・勤務評定にも影響を及ぼすことになると書いています。

DECEMBER 2013
They're Watching You at Work
What happens when Big Data meets human resources? The emerging practice of "people analytics" is already transforming how employers hire, fire, and promote.
DON PECKNOV 20 2013, 9:07 PM ET

この流れが定着すると、TOEICの求人などの出題の仕方も変わっていくのでしょうね。
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