Special Panel Session | The Other AI: Automation, Innovation and the Future of Work in Asia

This roundtable session is supported by the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation.


The boundaries of what machines can do are pushed even further as computing power steadily increases. Complex tasks are becoming automatable at a speed which seemed unfeasible a decade ago. Machines are able to perform a large number of manual and an increasing number of cognitive tasks that previously, only humans can perform. Some argue that innovative technologies can displace millions from their jobs, spurring fears of technological unemployment. Automation, digital platforms and other innovations are creating new complex challenges overlaid on long-established ones.

The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) Socio-economic Governance Program Asia (SOPAS) panel discussion aims to contribute to these debates by examining the impact of automation and innovation on Asian developing countries. In particular, it looks at how technological advances are changing the economic structures of developing countries which are still struggling to carve out the necessary resources to effectively react to and benefit from the future of work trends.

The roundtable session will revolve around the following key questions:

  1. How are automation and other technological advances changing economic and social patterns in Asian developing countries?
  2. How can governments, industries, and civil society organizations support their citizens with different backgrounds and skill levels to effectively manage these transitions while also taking into account social considerations?

Dr Elisabetta Gentile from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will talk about how employment responded to consumption, trade, and technological advances in developing Asia. Dr Christian Viegelahn from the International Labor Organization (ILO) will discuss the policies, strategies and plans linked to technological changes, demographic shifts and climate change in the ASEAN countries and their main trading partners (ASEAN +6). Dr Daniel Schmuecking (KAS Cambodia) will talk about the impact of digitalization on Cambodia's manufacturing industry and the approaches that policymakers could take in order to attain the most positive outcome for Cambodia. Ms Rabea Brauer (KAS Japan) will serve as the chair for the round table.


Rabea Brauer, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Japan (roundtable-chair)
Elisabetta Gentile, Asian Development Bank, Philippines (discussant)
Christian Viegelahn, International Labour Organization, Thailand (discussant)
Daniel Schmücking, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Cambodia (discussant)
Cristita Marie Perez, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Japan (organizer)

Rabea Brauer

KAS, Japan

Rabea Brauer started her career at the State Government of Thuringia, Germany where she served as Spokeswomen of the Ministry of Interior for three years until 2002. On behalf of her State Government and the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation (KAS), she implemented an administrative reform project funded by the EU in Cambodia. In 2005 she joined the European Commission as Head of Section for Good Governance & Democracy at the EU Delegation to Cambodia where she was also responsible for the funding to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal at the ECCC. After four years with the Commission, she moved to KAS to represent the foundation in Cambodia and Vietnam.

In 2016 Rabea Brauer was called to KAS Headquarter to lead the Department Asia & Pacific in Berlin, Germany. She was responsible for 23 offices in Asia and Pacific and has published a number of articles on China, the US-Asia relation, the South China Sea conflict and on the Mekong River politics. Since August 2019 she represents KAS in Japan and also directs the Regional Program "Economic Governance in Asia".

Rabea Brauer holds Master Degrees in Political Science, American Studies, and EU Law from Universities in Germany and the US.

Elisabetta Gentile

The Asian Development Bank, Philippines

Elisabetta Gentile is an Economist at the Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Elisabetta is a development economist focusing mainly on innovation, technology, and education. She co-authored the study on “How technology affects Jobs” for the Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2018 and co-leads the upcoming study on “What drives innovation in Asia?” for the ADO 2020. Her work on skill mobility in the ASEAN Economic Community has widened her research portfolio to include skilled labor migration. Elisabetta was previously a lecturer in the Department of Economics at the National University of Singapore.

Christian Viegelahn

International Labour Organization, Thailand

Christian Viegelahn works as Economist at the Regional Economic and Social Analysis (RESA) Unit in the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok. Christian joined ILO’s Bangkok Office in August 2018, after having spent several years at ILO’s Research Department in Geneva. Christian’s research focuses on trade, global supply chains, macroeconomics and the labour market. He also managed the production of new labour market indicators, including global estimates of the number of workers in different types of firms. Christian holds a PhD in Economics from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. Before joining the ILO in 2011, he worked for the OECD.

Daniel Schmücking

KAS, Cambodia

Daniel Schmücking is the country director for Konrad Adenauer Stiftung’s (KAS) office in Cambodia. From 2014 to 2018, Daniel led the KAS office in Mongolia. Prior to working for KAS, he was head of division in the main office of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) in Thuringia and was responsible for media, campaigns and organization and voter mobilization. His latest research is on the impact of Industry 4.0 on the garment sector in Cambodia. Daniel holds a PhD from the Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena. As part of his doctoral studies, he spent time at the University of Maryland (USA) and the University of California (USA).

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