The economics of automation: lessons from the manufacturing sector in France
We often hear headlines from studies written on the economic impacts of automation, particularly the impacts on employment, writes Alex Croucher of VKY Intelligent Automation. These are generally predictions based on perception of what could be automated and often take no account of whether the automations suggested would be practical, desirable or commercially viable. The same goes for the timelines. Some are much better and give well-balanced views. Some of the better-known ones include PwC’s annual report, UK’s Office of National Statistics and the University of Mannheim’s report for the OECD. Due to the Intelligent Automation and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) field being relatively young, there is little available quantitative data on large scale roll-outs and their effect on employment at either micro or macro levels. So, we must look at other existing data sources or studies based on these sources which could be transferred to the field of Intelligent Automation. One such study is a collaboration between MIT, Paris-Saclay University and Boston University for the World Economic Forum. It looks at employment within the manufacturing sector in France and assesses the impact of the introduction of physical robots over a five-year period. The intention here is not to perform a critique of that study but to draw out some key points and lessons which can be applied to automation of the office environment.