The end of work or liberation from work?
The impact of automation and digitalization on the future of work has been debated for a long time already. One of the most well-known books of the debate is Jeremy Rifkin’s End of Work (1995). According to Rifkin, unemployment will increase massively in the future because of information technology. Millions of people in manufacturing, agricultural and service sectors would then lose their jobs as they could be done with the help of machines.
Fifteen years ago this development might have sounded like science fiction. Today, it is a highly topical question. Routine work is disappearing. It doesn’t only affect the so called blue-collar workers, since academic professions are also endangered.
In the beginning of 2015, The Fortune magazine wrote that robots are already doing plenty of such jobs, for example working as financial and sports reporters, online marketers, surgeons, e-discovery lawyers and financial advisors. The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, ETLA, has predicted that during the next twenty years the jobs of salespersons, secretaries and accountants in Finland will disappear.
Will it mean the liberation from work or end of the work?