Giving Compass’ Take:
• In this story from American Enterprise Institute, author Brent Orrell investigates the economic pros and cons of smart tech, automation, and artificial intelligence.
• While there are reasons for concern, Orrell argues that automation is the best path toward economic growth and improved living standards. What role can the nonprofit sector play in mitigating the downsides of this transition?
• To learn how artificial intelligence could be used to support K-12 schools, click here.
The question of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and the future of human work is a Rorschach test: the answer you get depends on what you see. For some, the advent of “smart” everything portends a future of rising living standards and human flourishing. Others see a dark side. Without going “full Terminator,” many of the best informed people in the AI field see a revolution that threatens social cohesion by devaluing human labor.
The actual future will likely contain elements of both these forecasts along with others that we haven’t yet imagined. In the short- and medium-term, significant challenges are probable as artificial intelligence works its way through the economy. The best estimates predict that somewhere between 10 percent and 30 percent of all jobs — between 15 million and 45 million positions — are susceptible to partial or complete automation in the United States alone. The good news is that automation will be gradual and uneven because of its capital costs and implementation challenges.
In the longer term, economic history suggests that substituting technology for human labor is the best path to economic growth and improved living standards. The steam engine that launched the Industrial Revolution eliminated tens of thousands of jobs for artisans producing fine linens — but created millions of factory jobs in textile mills and drove down the price of clothing, and eventually, other wares. Lower prices left more income to purchase new products, devices and services.
This is the triple benefit of innovation: new jobs, lower prices and increased diversity of products. Just as manufacturing replaced agriculture as the principal occupation of Americans, today services and information tasks are replacing manufacturing. Innovation means jobs are destroyed, but new types of work are created at an even faster rate.
Read the full article about artificial intelligence by Brent Orrell at American Enterprise Institute
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