These 5 countries are ready for the future

Five countries are leading the way to an automated future not only through tech development but also through a cultural and policy shift, a study from The Economist has revealed.

South Korea bested all other countries on the Automation Readiness Index 2018 by scoring high consistently in three areas: fostering an innovation environment; supporting education; and developing labor market policies.

In 2017, South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT earmarked close to US$150m to fund research and development of AI-enabled tech from public and private sector organizations. The country allocated funds equivalent to 4.23% of its GDP on R&D in 2016 – the highest in the world.

South Korea has also been working to reform its teacher training and assessment programs as well as its school curricula to include skills training fit for the future of work.

Germany ranked second overall. As a leader in the Industry 4.0 revolution, the country funds innovation in the manufacturing sector and also lends support to R&D efforts in emerging tech such as data analytics and the Internet of Things.

Singapore placed third overall and shared the top spot with Germany and South Korea in terms of preparing their labor markets for the future. All three provide government support and urge worker retraining/vocational training. Singapore is also looking into funding its citizens’ lifelong learning.

Japan, which has long been a powerhouse in industry digitalization, ranked fourth on the final list but dominated in terms of innovation environment. The government’s Strategic Council for AI Technology streamlines all AI-related work across R&D centers.

Canada landed in the fifth spot overall as a result of redesigning teacher training and education programs with ’21st century competencies’, which the Ontario government, for one, outlined as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

Despite the diversity of opinion, experts on the future of work have generally come to a consensus on two broad ideas about AI and automation.

First, intelligent automation will replace more tasks than it will displace jobs. Second, taking advantage of the opportunities – and reducing the strains – of automation requires a concerted effort by governments, businesses, labor organizations, educators, and civil society as a whole.

Such concerted effort ideally results in policy development, but it can only happen in an atmosphere conducive to dialogue, analysts have said.