On 11 June 2019, the JICA Research Institute held a Knowledge Forum entitled “Challenge for future human capital development ~ Digitalization, AI, and job opportunity in developing countries ~.” Prof. Yamaguchi served as a panelist, and Hirai (D4), and Ishihara (M2) attended the forum. The JICA Knowledge Forum was conducted by the JICA Research Institute as an opportunity for diverse stakeholders interested in international development to share knowledge and learn from each other to create new ideas.
The lecture was given by Tomohiro Inoue, professor of Komazawa University. Prof. Inoue is currently working as an economist to research on the influence of AI development on Job opportunity. With his work experience in the IT industry, he also wrote books that discuss AI development and its impact on society. The contents of the lecture were mainly the following three points.
First point: Uneven empowerment by AI
The development of AI technology will bring great changes in the lives of people. However, its utility is not uniform. There is a difference between those who can benefit from it and those who do not. Currently, he explained, the person who is receiving the most AI benefits in the world is Xi Jinping. By installing an AI surveillance camera “Skynet” in China, the system enables the Chinese government to utilize the massive size of citizens’ behavioral pattern data.
Second point: Impact of AI on employment
The development of AI technology can cause the polarization of the labor force. The polarization is already observed in Japan and the United States. The number of medium skill employees, such as office work, has been decreasing due to the spread of IT technology and automation. On the other hand, there is an increasing demand for low skills such as manual labor and high skills such as professional skills. This polarization trend will be further accelerated by the spread of AI technology, and the disparity among people will expand accordingly.
Third point: Fourth Industrial Revolution
According to Prof. Inoue, the fourth industrial revolution may be led by either the US, which has large IT companies such as Google and Amazon, or China, which is developing nationally-led AI technology. Besides, the advancement of AI development and automation is expected to bring about a return to the industrialized countries in the manufacturing industry. For developing countries, step-by-step industrial development from agriculture to the manufacturing industry, from the manufacturing industry to the service industry are not necessary anymore. Instead, a direct shift from agricultural-driven industry to an information-oriented society centered on AI is possible. Rwanda, where IT has rapidly progressed, is a good example of that. On the other hand, for countries that support the economy with cheap labor force may face difficulty due to replacing workers for a repetitive job by automated machines.
Following the lecture, panelist professor Prof. Yamaguchi emphasized three important points in the AI era, global cooperation to formulate rule and regulation of AI, dealing with income disparity caused by the implementation of AI and education to connect education to employment in the AI era. Also, Dr. Shin from JICA Research Institute introduced the potential of AI integration in Ethiopia. He mentioned that to realize effective integration of AI for social development, ICT infrastructure development, and human capital development are inevitable challenges in Ethiopia. It was interesting to think about the question of how our society will specifically change with AI from the perspective of economics. Our laboratory handles reading materials related to AI at seminars. “Expansion of disparity” has been discussed as a major issue. This time, it was a very valuable opportunity to learn the thoughts of experts on the importance of formulating international rules and the implementation of new social systems such as basic income, etc., as a countermeasure for the “expansion of disparity.” The impact of AI is also highly related to the context of international development that we are involved in. In addition to knowing the trends of AI development, it needs to be considered how will countries related to our laboratory’s project be affected by AI.