Will New Technologies Destroy Jobs in Asia? New ADB Podcast

Asia’s workplaces are being transformed by new technology.
Asia’s workplaces are being transformed by new technology.

By Andrew Perrin, Erik Churchill

Over four episodes, our experts discuss the impact of automation on industries and jobs in the region

Technology is radically transforming workplaces. While mechanization has been a cornerstone of industrial development, today’s advances seem to be accelerating. Robots and artificial intelligence are now even capable of replacing white-collar jobs.

In Asia, this transformation – what many call the 4th industrial revolution – is having a profound impact. The region’s economic rise is built on its ability to adapt to new technologies, and yet there remain many people and places still to reap the benefits of the 2nd industrial revolution, which brought clean water and electricity into workplaces and homes.

To understand how Asia can consider and deal with these challenges, we launched a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) podcast, called Technology and Jobs. It’s a four-episode series focused on the impact of technological change on labor markets. Each episode looks at how Asia’s workplace is being transformed by technology and what that means for the workers of today as well as those who are going to be doing the jobs of the future.

[tweet="ADB economist: Asia's economic rise built on ability to adapt to new technologies. #newtechnologies #FutureOfWork" text="Asia's economic rise built on its ability to adapt to new technologies"]

We’re joined by leading ADB economists and experts to help us explore different aspects of the issue: how countries can address rapidly advancing technological change; how economies can implement productivity-enhancing technologies while protecting workers; and ways policymakers and workers can respond to the automated revolution in the workplace.

Many of the ideas discussed in the podcast draw upon research from ADB’s report, How Technology Affects Jobs, part of this year’s Asian Development Outlook.

Episodes are available at the Soundcloud links below and on adb.org.

Episode 1: The Future of Work

Our new podcast looks at how the workplace is being transformed by technology and what that means for the workers of today as well as those who are going to be doing the jobs of the future. In Episode 1 we discuss the scale of the challenge – the size of the workforce in Asia, what the region produces for the global economy, what its economic rise has meant for Asian countries themselves, and what an automated Asia may look like.

Episode 2: The Age of the Machines

As many of the wildest ideas about technology become reality, and extend deeper into our lives and workplaces, our anxieties seem to be accelerating together with the technology itself. Asia is at the forefront of adopting these new technologies – with the People’s Republic of China leading the way. In Episode 2 we look at how widespread the effects of technology in the workplace are, what industries will benefit most, and how excited or concerned workers should be.

Episode 3: How Automation Affects Globalization

Globalization is the force behind Asia’s extraordinary economic rise. But the supply chains that have linked Asia to the globalization process could come under strain from new technologies that might, for example, make it easier for industrialized countries to manufacture products closer to home. So, will technology affect Asia’s vaunted position in the global supply chain? What kind of a challenge does it pose to specific countries, industries and workers? Join us as we discuss these issues in Episode 3.

Episode 4:  How to Stay Employed in an Automated Era

So far in this series we have examined various ways that Asia’s workplace and workforce are being changed by new technology. We asked how we should see the rise of the machines – a threat or an opportunity? We also looked at the way technology could alter the globalized economy and Asia’s place within it. In the final episode, we look at what lies ahead for the workers of today and what can be done to prepare the workers of tomorrow for the changes that are happening.