White House: Robots may take half of our jobs, and we should embrace it
Artificial intelligence is coming, and policymakers need to prepare the economy for it, the White House said in a report released Wednesday.
The report, “Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and the Economy,” suggests the U.S. should invest in and develop AI, because it has “many benefits,” education and train Americans for the jobs of the future, and aid workers in the transition and empower them to share in future growth.
But the authors of the report acknowledge that there are countless unknowns, from what the effects could be, to how quickly they’ll arrive.
“Researchers’ estimates on the scale of threatened jobs over the next decade or two range from 9% to 47%,” they write, but add that the economy has always proved to be resilient to take existing rates of change and shrinking of industry in stride.
What’s more, robots can make economies more efficient. The authors cite a 2015 paper that found robots added an average 0.4% to GDP growth in 17 countries between 1993 and 2007.
(“Productivity” can sound arbitrary and dry, but, as the authors write, greater productivity in the economy translates into better living standards.)
Still, the people who will lose out to artificial intelligence are the most vulnerable: those with less education, in lower wage jobs, such as driving and house cleaning.
Still, the authors see a role for government in advancing AI through research and development, such as in cyberdefense. The government should also encourage diversity and inclusion in so-called STEM fields, and promote policies that promote competition between private-sector firms working on these types of advancements.
Government can also play a role by investing in early childhood education and making sure all students graduate from high school “college- and career-ready.”
And, the authors write, policymakers should aid workers with the transition to an AI-dominated economy by investing in social-safety net programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and retirement programs. For Americans who are immediately impacted, policymakers should strengthen unemployment insurance and job creation programs.
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