AI labor is coming
It's not just factory work being replaced by artificial intelligence — white-collar jobs are next. Here's why.
Artificial intelligence at work
The U.S. is experiencing heavy disruption due to automation — affecting over 25% of jobs. Now, it's not just factory work — white-collar jobs are next. “When you think about a Midwest factory that has been shedding jobs over the past two to three decades, it's typically, you know, these major industrial robot installations that have both been making workers more productive, but also displacing some of the same time", Robert Maxim from the Brook Institute tells Brut. Furthermore, there is the prevalence of software that has truly become widespread in recent decades yet fails to receive any serious press. Maxim continues, “Then the third is this more emerging category of artificial intelligence and machine learning. It's a new set of technologies. That's one of the areas that we look at in our most recent report, trying to assess what workers are going to be most exposed to with these new emerging technologies.”
Since the 1970s, robotic technologies have replaced human labor in blue collar jobs in manufacturing and service industries. But processes like machine learning could mean AI and software smart enough for administrative, quality control, and financial sector work. Maxim elaborates, “In jobs that are affected by software and robotics, the workers that are able to stay on the job tend to have an increase in wages because they become more productive. They can do a lot more with the same amount of effort… You can see a world where, you know, maybe potentially some financial research analysts have algorithms that can do their job better than them.” But there is a disadvantage being overall wages and employment in the occupations that are affected often become depressed.
Maxim argues there won’t be an automation apocalypse — 33% of new jobs in the U.S. are in occupations that didn’t exist 25 years ago. “At the same time, you know, they're going to be quite a few workers that are actually made better off because of the deployment of AI. So think about an example of maybe a doctor who is tasked with diagnosing diseases for patients, certainly leveraging a guy who's going to be able to help them more efficiently, find diseases, identify abnormalities of the patient. But at the same time, you're really going to need a doctor for a variety of really crucial aspects of that process,” Maxim concludes.