It is our responsibility to make the future inclusive and sustainable

Will all workers be displaced by machines? As history has shown, some jobs are destroyed and others are created. The future lies in closer collaboration between humans and machines. In this context, a new generation of entrepreneurs is ongoing, innovative and tied to strong values. Conscious by our planet’s situation, having grown up in a world punctuated by crisis, they have decided to act and create startups that have social and environmental positive impact. Hence, these women and men entrepreneurs invent a new economy, wealth creating, leaning to new technologies for social good.

New technologies at our disposal (digital, biotechnologies, robotics, artificial intelligence…) can constitute as much threat as great opportunity to re-invent a better world.  All industries see today their economic model deeply disturbed.

Agriculture is a sector where automation and other forms of technology have brought considerable advances to the benefit of mankind. But some forms of agriculture still require back-breaking work to prepare soil, pull weeds, harvest crops, and transport heavy loads.

To improve the working conditions of fruit and vegetable farmers, a local French firm Toutiterre created the Toutilo.  It is a robot or, better yet, a “cobot”, collaboration between robot and human that combines farm work, task automation and robotics into one technology, making the process faster, safer and more efficient. A true example of what social entrepreneurship can tackle – a credible solution to our planet and civilization’s challenges.

Toutiterre is not the only company seeking to supplement human workers with automation. OECD estimates show that while overall only 14% of jobs are at high risk of automation,  we should be expecting that around a third of jobs today will significantly change as 50% and 70% of their tasks become automated.

How do we prepare for this? Many people will need new skills and this kind of training should begin early, in schools. Our education, training programmes and public policies must adapt to the new realities of automation. In the workplace, employees will need to beef up their training as many of the skills of their workers today will become obsolete tomorrow. Companies will need to function as academies, teaching their employees how to work hand in hand with algorithms, artificial intelligence and robotics. Public authorities (metropoles, regions, States, national and international institutions), economic stakeholders (firms, entrepreneurs) and civil society must encourage this great dynamic, to create this new economic paradigm, inclusive and sustainable.

Long story short: overall, robots will supplement, not supplant.  


Author profile
Nicolas Hazard
Special Advisor at European Commission | Website