Machine and Modern Day Labour

A new study from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business’ Michael Gibbs finds that technological advances, particularly in machines that can perform complex tasks, have begun to dramatically change jobs and labor markets. While this phenomenon has had an economic effect, it has also reprioritized which qualities are most important in a valuable employee. Many analytical, social and creative skills cannot be replicated by machines, and therefore make a strong case for a continued need for human workers.

The labor market has become polarized: while middle-skill jobs become increasingly automated, high-skill jobs that require a combination of cognitive skills, creative acumen and leadership expertise have not been affected. Similarly, low-skill jobs that require customer service or rely on teamwork have not been as drastically changed by automated systems. Therefore, it is the middle-skill, routine occupations that have been decimated by the technological revolution.

For example, certain aspects of the medical field have been impacted by the popularity of automated machines. Many diagnostic tests, nursing tasks and surgical tools have become automated by complex machines and programs. However, certain jobs simply cannot be replicated by machines. A nurse’s interaction with his or her patients is invaluable and impossible to effectively replicate. Similarly, while machines can assist with tasks before, during and after a surgery, a machine cannot replace a skilled, human surgeon.

Gibbs’ study suggests that this “hollowing-out” of middle-skill, routine jobs has a drastic impact on wage inequality. As middle-skill opportunities shrink, giving rise to high and low-skill jobs, wages also become either high or low. This disparity has already impacted the economy and will continue to change the labor market’s landscape. Automation in the workforce naturally impacts current employees, but students and job-seekers should take heed of the patterns that have emerged. Since the jobs that are harder to automate involve creativity, cognition and social skills, job-seekers should develop these intangible qualities to make themselves more valuable to potential employers.

On the other hand, Gibbs suggests that future research and legislation should focus on how technology and robotics could augment human creativity and cognition. Such research could enhance artificial intelligence and make robots even more common and valuable to the labor market. Although such significant technological advances would only increase labor market polarization and wage inequality, it would pave the way for the future of effective machinery.

<Risk and Uncertainty in the Art World>

At times, the forces of change seem to pull the art world in competing directions. As the feared power of the expert art critique has waned, the influence of mass-market media, online recommendations and search engines, enabled by information technology, has arguably democratised the art world and encouraged access. The unprecedented amount of information available online about objects and transactions has revolutionised the way business is done and who can do it. At the same time, ever-escalating prices and the economic power of those who can pay the winning bid have made the art world more exclusive by raising the stakes and the barriers to entry and access to objects for both people and institutions, including museums. As old gatekeepers lose their influence, new gatekeepers, such as art fairs and websites, have grown in importance. The art world ’ s client base has also become more diverse and geographically dispersed as wealth from ‘ emerging ’  economies and new industries, such as finance and high-tech, enable oligarchs to compete with entrepreneurs and hedge-fund managers for the most fashionable objects. As consumer demographics change, a younger, more international clientele with omnivorous tastes and an army of advisors are happy to place antiquities alongside contemporary artworks in their homes, their foundations and private museums around the world.


2nd article from <risk and uncertainly in the art world>

Tom Christopherson 2014

Failure to maintain an appropriate process for assessing, recording, packing, shipping and unpacking the work at each stage of its journey would lead to a signifi  cantly enhanced risk of loss or damage, with disputes over liability for such damage. Even where such extensive arrangements for international travel are not contemplated, the art market routinely has to address condition issues in the receiving, cataloguing, exhibiting, selling and then delivery of fragile artworks. These issues and associated risks are more prevalent now than ever before as a result of the global expansion of the market through telephone and Internet bidding, increased reliance upon condition reports and online images, and with delivery of works often arranged by the seller or their agent. It is a prerequisite for art market practitioners to ensure that risk of loss or damage is clearly covered by applicable contractual provisions and relevant insurance policies at all stages of the transaction, and that both are properly understood. It is equally important that all parties to the transaction understand the process at each stage, and that a proper record is kept of each step. Cover in the best contracts and insurance policies can be undone by misunderstanding the practical steps for transferring artworks from one place to another or from one ownership to another.

Value, risk and the contemporary art ecosystem

Anders Petterson, Founder and Managing Director, ArtTactic Ltd

The online buyers and sellers

Since 2010, the online art industry has been experiencing rapid growth. There are now more than 300 online art market players worldwide * . These cover segments such as data, information and research, social communities, auctions and galleries, business-to-business and consumer-to-consumer art transaction platforms. In addition, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and ArtStack are changing the way that we communicate and share our interests around art. At the forefront of the online art market revolution are companies such as Artnet (US). Artprice (France) and Paddle8 (US) have launched their own online auctions. In the primary market, websites such as s[edition] (UK), Artspace (US), Artfinder (UK), 1stdibs (US), Exhibition A (US) and (US) have invested heavily in an attempt to make inroads into the lower-priced segments of the art market. In August 2013, Amazon also announced its entry into the art market through its Amazon Art Market section, kicking off with more than 40,000 artworks by over 4,500 artists offered by in excess of 150 galleries. A recent study done by Hiscox and ArtTactic on the online art trade suggests that the barriers to buy art online (sight unseen) are much lower than one might expect, with 72 per cent of the survey respondents †  saying they had bought art based on looking at a JPEG image only. It is clear that art consumers and their behaviour are changing. Existing business models in the art market will have to adapt to survive, and we would expect a new, modified art ecosystem to evolve in the future.

In the late 1990s, a number of companies such as Artnet and Artprice, launched their online fine art auction databases, providing a significant increase in price transparency. Whilst past auction data was published in annual book volumes, the online databases provided instant and easy access to historic art auction prices, reducing the inefficiencies and level of asymmetric information that typically existed between buyers and sellers in the art market. In 2005, ArtTactic, the company I founded officially in 2011, launched its first art market ‘ Confidence Index ’  described earlier in the chapter. In recent years, a number of players have entered the market for art analysis and analytical tools, such as Beautiful Asset Advisors, Tutela Capital and Skate ’ s. Artnet also launched its art market analytics product in 2010. Data, analysis, research and market commentary are becoming important tools for the new group of buyers and sellers that have entered the market of late, including the emergence of the art and fi  nance industry mentioned above. With a growing number of followers, the opinions and analysis of these companies are likely to start having a greater influence on the marketplace.

The incredible growth in social media has also had an impact on the art market. Facebook and Twitter are actively being used by artists, galleries, museums and auction houses as new communication and marketing tools. In addition, new start-ups such as ArtStack have captured large audiences that want to share their art and their interest with others. The Value, risk and the contemporary art ecosystem   85 aggregate voice of social media and the large audiences it attracts could have a significant impact on how we form our perception and opinion about art in the future. Again, the interesting fact is that these opinions are currently driven by art enthusiasts and the informed public –  and not necessarily by those previously viewed as ‘ tastemakers ’ . Although one might assume that the above operators are solely there to support the existing art market, the future might see several of these operators evolve into becoming something else. In fact, this is already happening: both Artnet and Artprice have set up their own art sales platforms, aiming to offer their clients more than just information; also the actual art itself.


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