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Brief # 37 Technology Policy

Artificial Intelligence —Will It Really Take Away Our Jobs?

By Linda F. Hersey

February 15, 2021

Artificial intelligence is poised to take over many job functions beyond bolting doors on vehicles at auto plants or filling orders at Amazon warehouses.  Jobs that many people assume require a human touch are at risk. They include roles in telemarketing, bookkeeping, employee compensation, office administrative duties, delivery services, proofreading and market research analysis.

Within five to 10 years, driverless cars and trucks are expected to transform road transport services, including long-haul trucking and popular door-to-door food delivery.

Should humans performing more complex business functions be looking over their shoulder? Perhaps. Emerging roles of artificial intelligence across industries are diverse and sweeping in scope, including entertainment/media, financial services, health care and energy.

  • Computers are much quicker and less prone to error in detailed jobs that require acumen in math or grammar.
  • A new generation of computers are adaptive, meaning they learn and change – much like humans — to meet the challenges and opportunities of their environment.
  • While machines have steadily replaced unskilled labor jobs for decades, artificial intelligence increasingly can perform many functions of high-paying professionals, such as lawyers, medical doctors and accountants.

Many analysts claim that jobs lost from automation will be replaced by new careers in the knowledge economy, much in the same way that manufacturing jobs replaced farming. Future job growth may include technology, architecture, engineering and skilled trades, such as carpentry

A study titled “The Future of Work: Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained,” conducted by McKinsey, identified alternative energy as another source of new employment at a time of job displacement from automation. The company estimated that jobs in the renewable energy sector, including wind and solar technology, could number up to 10 million in the U.S. and another 10 million globally by 2030. . The nations with the strongest economies will be the ones that best transition to a knowledge economy that retrains

Automation expert Kai-Fu Lee told “60 Minutes” that he believes 40 percent of the world’s jobs will be replaced by robots in the next 15 years. He asserts that the economies of the U.S., China other advanced nations are in transition because of the disruptions from artificial intelligence, and it is essential for leadership to manage the impact.

Lee is a former Apple, Microsoft and Google executive based in China who developed an automated speech recognition system, as his doctoral project at Carnegie Mellon. In his book, “AI Super-Powers, China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order,” Lee outlines how automation and artificial intelligence will impact economic policy and global politics.  Innovation and getting new AI products to market increasingly will drive GDP, gross domestic product.

Engagement Resources

  • Globe Newswire is one of the world’s largest newswire distribution networks, specializing in the delivery of corporate press releases in technology and other industries.
  • Janes provides news and information on U.S. national security and the military, including artificial intelligence.
  • Nextgov has a mission to lead the national discussion on innovation and technology’s role in serving citizens and the U.S. government.
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