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Greater job opportunities or social threat?

The gig economy is revolutionizing employment, growing in participants as well as in skepticism. AI & The Future of Work: Assessing economic security in the gig economy.

The technological transformations that we have witnessed in recent years have the potential of producing enormous gains in terms of life quality. 1 The growth in artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) developments have broadened their application possibilities in our daily lives: in work, health, consumption, and recreation to name only a few.   

One of the most disruptive ways in which technology is now changing the world of work is the gig economy. Giggers are freelancers who are hired only for the time required to complete certain tasks. 2

Flexible but brief

In this employment model, internet based platforms connect providers and consumers of almost any service. Matched services include those provided by lower and higher skilled profiles, from domestic workers to business consultants and computer programmers. The only requirements are computers and WiFi access anywhere in the world 1) to use an internet based app or platform which matches supply and demand and 2) to complete the tasks offered.

The latest publication by our Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI), AI & The Future of Work, assesses the impacts this groundbreaking approach is having in the job market and social environment. The authors explore the various ways this  compelling phenomenon is swaying such established structures in previously unimaginable ways.

Accessible but uncertain 

As most disruptive technological innovations, the gig working model is both an opportunity and a threat to the social environment, bringing governments new challenges in developing the adequate legislation to address the needs of all involved.

The gig economy is:

  • Inherently inclusive: an opportunity with few obstacles for individuals motivated to work
  • Inevitably risky: perceived as jeopardizing stable incomes and established social benefits known in advanced economies

Efficient but controversial 

In this innovative working model, companies have the ability to hire best matching skills only when needed, without having to offer more than a payment for the service provided. A cost efficient method without a future commitment. 

The consequences are major for employees, defying the social insurance systems in use since the age of industrialization: 

Small but substantial

The gig economy is still a minimal percentage of total employment. Nonetheless, its significance is undeniable given that its vast potential is amplifying its rapid global growth.  

Finding a balance between flexibility and security is therefore impertinent for legislators, companies, and employees. Innovative solutions in public policy are required to ensure that society as a whole can profit inclusively and impacting uncertainties are reduced.

There is, however, one contemporary certainty stemming from the gig economy: the need to solve its inherent dilemmas is now fomenting ingenious regulation and political debates.

[1] Article based on AI & The Future of Work 2019, Giuliano Bonoli

[2] AI & The Future of Work 2019, Giuliano Bonoli