RIETI Report October 2018

The Impact of Information Technologies Such as Artificial Intelligence on Worker Stress

As new information technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are being developed and disseminated at a steady pace, how will they change work styles and worker well-being? A common view is that AI is a threat that will strip workers of employment opportunities. However, such new information technologies might affect not only employment and wages, but also the way people approach their work, and could influence aspects of their well-being, such as job satisfaction, stress, and health. In the October issue of the RIETI Report, we present "The Impact of Information Technologies Such as Artificial Intelligence on Worker Stress" by Faculty Fellow Isamu Yamamoto, who takes an evidence-based approach to reviewing this issue.

Yamamoto first looks at the relationship between technological innovation, employment, and wages, with predictions that new information technologies will cause job losses and wage disparities, yet also that it will have an impact on well-being and approaches to work. He reviews a study of 10,000 workers and finds that the more advanced the stage of adoption is for new information technologies, the larger is the increase in work satisfaction, and, conversely, work-related stress also increases. Yamamoto analyzes the complex influence of these new information technologies on well-being and the approach to work, and stresses the importance of analyzing the changes resulting from technological innovation. Finally, although information technologies brings about positive effects, Yamamoto emphasizes the need to deal with the negative effects including increased stress, and proposes that strengthening job resources will help extract the maximum benefit from the positive effects of new information technologies while also reducing stress.

This month's featured article

The Impact of Information Technologies Such as Artificial Intelligence on Worker Stress

YAMAMOTO IsamuFaculty Fellow, RIETI

The development and diffusion of new information technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) continue apace, but how are these factors likely to change work styles and worker well-being? More than a few observers take the view that AI will deprive workers of their employment and constitutes a threat to them. However, new information technologies such as AI might affect not simply employment and wages, but also the way workers approach their work, and could influence aspects of their well-being, such as job satisfaction, stress, and health, in a variety of ways.

Ever since the Industrial Revolution, economists have raised the possibility of "technological unemployment," in which employment is lost as a result of technological innovation. In addition, from the 1980s onward, findings of much research by labor economists have shown that the emergence of "skill-biased technological change," the benefits of which accrue only to highly skilled workers causes an increase in wage disparity. In recent years, there have been forecasts that new information technologies such as AI will deprive many of their work, and concerns that this will result in even more serious wage disparities have frequently been expressed.

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