The concern of Artificial Intelligence (AI) taking over everyone’s jobs is becoming increasingly urgent as recent AI breakthroughs (like AlphaGo, IBM Watson, self-driving cars, and many more) attract public attention. As AI progresses, some believe that it will steadily and inevitably take over large sectors of the workforce and will bring mass-scale unemployment and social unrest. One widely cited estimate, from a 2013 Oxford study, is that as much as 47% of current US jobs are at risk of automation. Such large numbers have prompted a myriad of fearful responses in popular media, with articles like “The AI Revolution Is Coming—And It Will Take Your Job Sooner Than You Think” and “New Study: Artificial Intelligence Is Coming For Your Job, Millennials.”
But, just how warranted are these concerns? What do history and the most recent studies tell us about how AI based automation will impact our jobs and the future of society?
In this article, we summarize the findings of recent studies and argue that the impact of AI on jobs in the near future will (most likely) not be significantly more disruptive than the impact of automation has been in the past. The number of jobs created by AI and automation in general will likely outnumber the jobs displaced. However, because workers of different countries, sectors, and income-levels will be affected differently, we still need governments to proactively enact prescriptive labor policies to facilitate smooth workforce transitions.
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