A Theory of Automation Transition Dynamics

Ingo Eichhorst
4 min readFeb 18, 2024

Navigating the Waves of Change: Automation, Innovation, and the Future of Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence


Technological advancements catalyse industrial revolutions, shaping new paradigms in economic and social structures. Historically, significant innovations such as the steam engine, electricity, the computer, and most recently, artificial intelligence (AI), have marked the inception of industrial epochs. As we verge on the fourth industrial revolution, it is imperative to analyse the transformative impacts of AI on employment, innovation, and the creation of novel product categories. This paper explores the concept of “creative destruction” posited by Schumpeter (Schumpeter, 1942) and integrates it with the acceleration of automation facilitated by AI, referencing the theoretical frameworks of Kondratjew waves (Kondratjew, 1925) and Schumpeter’s theories to propose the “Theory of Automation Transition Dynamics.”


The advent of AI and its generative capabilities herald a significant shift in the labor market, affecting roles from legal clerks to programmers, and introducing new opportunities in fields like protein folding, cancer detection, and fusion energy development (Silver et al., 2016; Senior et al., 2020). This dichotomy underscores the dual nature of technological progress, characterised by the displacement of existing jobs and the emergence of new markets and employment opportunities.

The Impact of Automation on Employment

Focusing on the automation of specific information intense roles, such as legal research clerks, we observe a paradigm where advancements in AI not only enhance productivity but also redefine job scopes. As AI automates up to 50% of tasks in certain professions, the relative importance and workload of the remaining tasks double, exemplifying the principle of “creative destruction” (Schumpeter, 1942). This phenomenon speeds up the automation process, which has the potential to accelerate the disruption creating a new wave of innovation which was described by Kondratjew as “Long Waves”. (Kondratjew, 1925).

Theory of Automation Transition Dynamics

This paper introduces the “Theory of Automation Transition Dynamics,” which emphasises the escalating pace of automation as a cyclic driver and the shifting window of human tasks as part of the economic system. The automation threshold constantly moves towards a higher automation of tasks. Tasks with higher effort are in the focus, thus their economic autamation potential is the highest. The left over tasks become the new 100% of work load making it more economically attractive to automate this new 100% of human workload as well. This transition does not happen as linear process but at shifting speeds, making it more dangerous for existing companies to adopt to this new circumstances compared to times of low technological improvement. At the same time there are new tasks created as a result of the creative destruction of old business.

Theory of Automation Transition Dynamics

New Frontiers in AI Products and Services

This new tasks evolve currently in AI regulation (AI Auditor), ethical management (Chief Ethical Officer), the usage of technical (Prompt Engineering) and the design of AI solutions (AI Solution Architect). Following the above example, legal clerks could transitioning towards advisory roles, spearhead the development of ethical frameworks and compliance strategies for AI technologies or underscoring the evolving nature of professional responsibilities. (Bostrom & Yudkowsky, 2014). According to the theory large unemployment happens when the automation threshold moves faster than the innovation threshold. The same is true for full employment where the innovation frontier cannot move faster anymore, limited by the workforce.


The discourse on the future of work and the role of AI and robotics raises fundamental questions about the nature of employment and societal values (Brynjolfsson & McAfee, 2014). While some speculate on a future where AI takes over all tasks across all sectors, this paper argues for a perspective that recognises the potential for AI to augment human capabilities and create new avenues for employment, especially in areas requiring empathy and nuanced judgment, such as childcare and nursing where robots and AI seam to play a minor role. (Honghu, 2024).


As we navigate the fourth industrial revolution, the imperative to innovate within the paradigms of automation and AI integration presents unprecedented challenges and opportunities. This era offers a unique chance to shape future economic and social structures through strategic investment in automation of previously unattractive tasks and the conceptualisation of services that address emerging needs like trust, security, privacy, and sustainability in AI products and services.


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