Must-Read: Charles Arthur: Artificial Intelligence

Must-Read: Just what is it that makes some personal service jobs–personal-care attendant, housekeeper–low-status and Low-pay, while keeping others–investment manager who fails to beat the indexes–high status and high pay?

Charles Arthur: Artificial Intelligence: “‘Homo sapiens will be split into a handful of gods…

…and the rest of us’. A new report suggests that the marriage of AI and robotics could replace so many jobs that the era of mass employment could come to an end… a new 300-page report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch… promises robot carers for an ageing population… [and] huge numbers of jobs being wiped out: up to 35% of all workers in the UK and 47% of those in the US, including white-collar jobs, seeing their livelihoods taken away by machines…. “The poster child for automation is agriculture,” says Calum Chace, author of Surviving AI and the novel Pandora’s Brain. “In 1900, 40% of the US labour force worked in agriculture. By 1960, the figure was a few per cent. And yet people had jobs; the nature of the jobs had changed. But then again, there were 21 million horses in the US in 1900. By 1960, there were just three million. The difference was that humans have cognitive skills–we could learn to do new things. But that might not always be the case as machines get smarter and smarter”….

Lawyers who used to slog through giant files for the “discovery” phase of a trial can turn it over to a computer…. Foxconn… aims to replace much of its workforce with automated systems…. Carl Benedikt Frey… points out that even while some jobs are replaced, new ones spring up that focus more on services and interaction with and between people. “The fastest-growing occupations in the past five years are all related to services,” he tells the Observer. “The two biggest are Zumba instructor and personal trainer.” Frey observes that technology is leading to a rarification of leading-edge employment, where fewer and fewer people have the necessary skills to work in the frontline of its advances… technology doesn’t create that many new jobs now compared to the past….. There will be people who own the AI, and therefore own everything else,” he says. “Which means homo sapiens will be split into a handful of ‘gods’, and then the rest of us…

November 27, 2015


Brad DeLong
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