July 11, 2019
Understanding AI’s Threat to the Labor Force
Are robots going to take our jobs? Numerous experts have examined this question, specifically looking at how artificial intelligence will displace people. But as AAF’s Director of Technology and Innovation Policy Will Rinehart notes, these studies have produced a wide range of conclusions that say very little about the changing structure of work — and even less about the appropriate policy responses.
Altogether, there are four primary issues to be concerned with in these prediction reports.
First off, the projections mentioned above aren’t compared against current economic baselines, and thus there is no counterfactual on which to compare the job loss projections. For policymakers, it is important to know how these projections diverge from the current baseline rate of change.
In the decade between 2006 and 2016, for example, over 51 million jobs were destroyed, while 179 million jobs were created. Since jobs totaled 152 million in December 2016, the total number of job deaths over the previous decade amounted to about a third of that amount — not that far off from some estimates of AI job loss.