2050: The future of work – Findings of an international Delphi-study of the millennium project
The first question posed by Delphi concerned the extremely controversial extent of unemployment feared or expected from technological transformation. Nearly unanimously, and independent of the age of respondents or from which region they came, the experts anticipated a globally rising unemployment rate on average from today’s circa 6 percent (Allen 2015) to 11 percent in 2020, with a continual rise up to 24 percent by 2050. 12 2050: THE FUTURE OF WORK. However, it is important to remember that the above figures are all averages of the responses. Some respondents expect an unemployment rate of up to 50 percent by 2050 or even a state of “nearly total unemployment”. Equally, the more experience respondents have with forecasting, the higher their estimates are pitched. The expectations of the less experienced experts as to the extent of the anticipated unemployment rate were on average 21 percent while the more experienced among them levelled out at 27 percent. By the same token, those experts with more competence in the fields of artificial intelligence and technology development also made higher estimates (for example, respondents with greater expertise estimated the global unemployment rate at 14, not 11, percent by 2020). In other words, the more respondents knew about predicting the future and the evolution of technology, the larger their estimates of expected unemployment were.