Asia Global Institute

Job-Saving Technologies

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Job-Saving Technologies

Asia Global Institute's Advisory Board Co-Chair Michael Spence on technology's role in streamlining the job market. Written with McKinsey Global Institute's James Maynika.

This is an age of anxiety about the job-killing effects of automation, with dire headlines warning that the rise of robots will render entire occupational categories obsolete. But this fatalism assumes that we are powerless to harness what we create to improve our lives - and, indeed, our jobs.

Evidence of technology's potential to help resolve our job concerns can be found in online talent platforms. Digital platforms already have transformed many parts of the economy. The online marketplaces built by Amazon and Alibaba, for example, have reshaped the retail landscape, partly by changing the local nature of retail markets.

Online talent platforms apply a similar approach to the world of work - with a similar impact. By creating regional, national, and even global job markets, they allow employers to tap into broader talent pools and connect job seekers with a wider universe of opportunities. In this way, they have transformed the typical job search, and are now approaching the critical mass needed to move employment numbers.

This article first appeared in Project Syndicate on October 15, 2015

The views expressed in this article are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect Asia Global Institute's editorial policy.


Michael Spence

Advisory Board Chairman, Asia Global Institute

Michael Spence


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The University of Hong Kong
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