Brazilian workers unsettled by artificial intelligence

In a 2016 event, the late University of Cambridge professor Stephen Hawking said that artificial intelligence will be “either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity.” Young Brazilians tend to expect the latter, unsure of their job opportunities in a world where robotics and automation have an increasingly more significant role in companies. As a consequence, it would become much harder for regular people to find jobs, and income inequality will grow.

The Pew Research Center has published a survey on how advanced and emerging economies worry about job automation. The study was performed in ten such countries and shows that large majorities of people are skeptical about the perks of automation for workers. Brazil, however, stands out as a country where this fear is significantly worse among people aged between 18 and 29, as opposed to older age groups. Data shows a 17-percent gap between younger and older workers. 


brazil artificial intelligence unemployment job automation


It seems natural &#8211; young people are especially vulnerable to the consequences of the rise of artificial intelligence in the job market. </span><a href="https://brazilian.report/money/2017/11/21/youth-unemployment-brazil-ilo/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Young professionals</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> are the worst-affected by Brazil&#8217;s current unemployment crisis. Among workers of 18 to 24 years old, unemployment rates are twice as big as the rate for the population in general &#8211; 26.6 to 12.7 percent, respectively.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">&#8220;This is because it costs companies a lot of money to train young workers. In times of rampant unemployment, employers opt for more-seasoned people,&#8221; explains Cimar Azeredo, who manages the National Household Sample Survey (Pnad), which updates monthly data on Brazilian families.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The dreadful scenario has led many Brazilians to seek a job in the public sector. In recent years, the number of people who enrolled in preparatory courses for civil-service examinations has gone up by 50 percent. But there&#8217;s not enough room in federal, state, and municipal offices.</span></p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-8754" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/export-etMuo-1024x362.png" alt="brazil artificial intelligence unemployment job automation" width="1024" height="362" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/export-etMuo-1024x362.png 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/export-etMuo-300x106.png 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/export-etMuo-768x271.png 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/export-etMuo-610x216.png 610w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/export-etMuo.png 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></p> <hr /> <h2>Will automation increase inequality?</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">More than 80 percent of Brazilians believe that increased use of robots and computers by companies will deepen levels of income inequality. And, according to Pew, Brazilian women are much more pessimistic about the future with automation than men. Only 32 percent of women believe that, with artificial intelligence, new, better-paying jobs will be created in the future. Among men, 42 percent share that optimism. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What the data shows is that the way in which people see automation as a threat depends on their views toward the market as it is today. Fifty-four percent of people who are satisfied with the current economic situation believe that workers will have better salaries in the future, while Brazilians who aren&#8217;t happy with how the economy is right now are more pessimistic, with only 35 percent believing in a brighter future. No other country in the survey showed a gap as wide as Brazil.</span></p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-8753" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/export-U9VyX-1024x468.png" alt="brazil artificial intelligence unemployment job automation" width="1024" height="468" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/export-U9VyX-1024x468.png 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/export-U9VyX-300x137.png 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/export-U9VyX-768x351.png 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/export-U9VyX-610x279.png 610w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/export-U9VyX.png 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /></p> <hr /> <h2>Artificial intelligence not homogeneously spread</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Job automation is not happening at the same pace everywhere, as the study highlights. While there are over 600 robots for every 10,000 workers in South Korea, the rate in Brazil is much, much lower. According to estimates, there are only ten robots for every 100,000 Brazilian workers, mainly due to the low costs of labor. It is still cheaper for Brazilian industries to rely on humans rather than machines.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">An industrial robot costs about USD 4 per hour. In Germany, a worker&#8217;s salary corresponds to USD 49 per hour. In the U.S., it&#8217;s USD 36. In Brazil, it is less than USD 3, according to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, referring to a worker in the wealthier Southeast.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The trend, however, is that technology will lower the costs of artificial intelligence &#8211; thus making automation more attractive. Brazilian youngsters know that and believe they should prepare for a challenging future.</span></p> <hr /> <p><img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-8755" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Untitled-1024x721.jpg" alt="brazil artificial intelligence unemployment job automation" width="1024" height="721" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Untitled-1024x721.jpg 1024w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Untitled-300x211.jpg 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Untitled-768x541.jpg 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Untitled-610x430.jpg 610w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Untitled.jpg 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" /><span style="font-weight: 400;">

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MoneySep 17, 2018

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BY Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist with experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets.