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Events
The Solutions Café Live Brainstorm: "Disruptive technologies: managing their impact on jobs”
April 15, 2015The World Bank | JD Wolfensohn Atrium | Washington, D.C.

The Solutions Café Live Brainstorm: "Disruptive technologies: managing their impact on jobs." This brainstorming session will explore ways for government to manage the transition into a ‘post-disruption’ environment. Colleagues across the WBG will share experiences and ideas on how to seize the opportunity and tackle the impact on jobs of the new wave of disruptive technologies. Join us on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 4pm.

Cloud Computing, mobile platforms, Big Data, 3D Printing — these new technologies and others have been coined ‘disruptive’ because of their potential to disrupt the labor market as we know it, by displacing, relocating or eliminating work activities. We are used to the fact that automation causes worker redundancies, in car factories for example, but do we fully understand the consequences sophisticated voice recognition will have on call-centers, what the Open Learning Initiative will mean for professors, or what the invention of software that can write software will mean for low-level programmers?

This brainstorming session will explore ways for government to manage the transition into a ‘post-disruption’ environment. Colleagues across the WBG will share experiences and ideas on how to seize the opportunity and tackle the impact on jobs of the new wave of disruptive technologies.

Date: Wed, April 15, 2015, 4pm
Place: JD Wolfensohn Atrium

Discussion leaders:

  • Pierre Guislain, Senior Director, Transport & ICT GP
  • Nigel Twose, Senior Director, Jobs CCSA

Objective: Show how we are working together across GPs and regions in order to tackle cross-sectorial challenges, share knowledge, and focus on results, by “simulating” the type of work-day conversations that are now happening at the WBG among experts across the institution.

Format: 45-minute discussion, no moderator. Participants work around a white board. TTLs and other colleagues will be in the area to contribute to the discussion. Atrium staff will direct audience comments to participants.

The Challenge: Lauren Woodman, CEO of NetHope, and Jessica Long, Managing Director of Accenture, explain in a blog on the Huffington Post, that in developing countries, like in the rest of the world, technology is contributing to market development and to boosting productivity. In many cases, it's the technology firms themselves that need trained IT programmers and other professionals to fill knowledge gaps and keep up with the demands of the rapidly growing economy. They explain that one of the most promising uses of technology in the developing world is called "impact sourcing," which refers to businesses employing disadvantaged individuals to perform processing tasks that require human interaction but can be performed on an outsourced basis.

The market for impact sourcing was $4.5 billion in 2010, and employed 144,000 people in developing countries. It is expected to grow to $20 billion annually by 2015 and provide 780,000 jobs, according to a study commissioned by The Rockefeller Foundation. Meanwhile, they say, Vodafone has found that across 12 markets, new mobile solutions could increase workers' livelihoods by US$7.7 billion by 2020, while enabling a further US$30.6 billion in benefits to organizations through improved productivity.

This is one side of the coin.

The other side of the coin is the reality presented Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne in their study ‘The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerization?’ According to them 47 percent of total US employment is in the high risk category, meaning that associated occupations are potentially automatable over. Explained in simple terms by William Bethwey & Associates, the ability to create, capture, communicate and process digital information is increasing at exponential rates. At the end of 2013, the 'digital universe' of all digital data created reached nearly 50 percent more than 2012 volumes and almost a quadrupling of 2010 volumes. Consequently, deployment of these technologies is causing significant economic, business and social change.

In turn, these technological advances, driven by the economic imperative to improve productivity are dramatically changing business practices. This is not necessarily a new phenomenon however, the sheer number, scale and rapidity of these advances is challenging fundamental assumptions we make about the way we live, work and play.

While governments are still figuring out the current ICT environment, its opportunities and its challenges, the new wave of ICT disruptions is forthcoming and necessitates preparations now.