“With ChatGPT and the emergence of artificial intelligence, the question of the scarcity of work and the future of pensions is relaunched”
Lhave we said enough! Hardness and the very meaning of work are conspicuously absent from the pension debate, the blind spot of government reform pushing back the legal retirement age from 62 to 64. Rejected by the unions, still united in the streets on Tuesday January 31, this brutal two-year postponement clearly reflects the desire of the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, to see the French ” work more “, the watchword of the second five-year term; but it contradicts the sad experience of men and women living the end of their career between unemployment and social assistance, far from employment.
Wage society and the welfare state have been inextricably linked for almost a century. The financing of pensions is based on an economy where work is central and abundant. Constructing rupture scenarios is not one of the missions of the Pensions Orientation Council: its latest projections, published in September 2022, are based on unemployment rate assumptions that France has experienced over the past fifty years, excluding any structural decline in employment by 2050-2070. And if this base were to be undermined by a scarcity of work under the effect of the latest technological advances?
The question is revived by the recent and sensational irruption of artificial intelligence (AI) in daily life. In A world without work (Flammarion, 432 pages, 24 euros), the economist Daniel Susskind, professor at Oxford, explores the potential repercussions on the use of these dizzying tools, now endowed with cognitive faculties, creative talents and sometimes even emotional reactions, without be copies of the neural system of the human brain.
The specter of job-killing machines has reappeared regularly since the English Luddite movement in the early 1900s.e century, breakers of looms for fear of losing their livelihood as craftsmen. In 1930, at the start of the Great Depression, the economist John Maynard Keynes was already analyzing the “technological unemployment”. He then considered it a necessary evil between two upheavals in the production system, while predicting that the productivity gains made possible by technical advances would lead a century later to a “age of leisure and abundance”, where we would only work fifteen hours a week.
This is the old Malthusian refrain! Opponents of this utopian vision are still shouting today, comforted by three hundred years of economic history. Since the XVIIIe century, each progress (steam engine, electricity, IT, etc.) resulted in the creation of new job-providing sectors. They have led to a halving of working time in industrialized countries. The number of working people has not stopped growing, however, including in the most productive countries. “There is no guarantee that this will happen again in the decades ahead of us”says Susskind.
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