Artificial intelligence (AI) will impact our immediate future job displacement. While there are benefits to adopting new technological changes for the economy and society, they have the potential to disrupt the livelihoods of millions of Americans.
Andrew Yang is the Founder and CEO of Venture for America, a fellowship program that places top college graduates in emerging start-ups in U.S. cities. In a recent article he said, “Stephen Hawking [believes] ‘we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity’ and that the ‘rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining.’” Yang added, “The White House published a report … that reinforced this view.1 Some of the headline stats:
- 83% of the jobs where people make less than $20/hour will be subject to automation or replacement.
- Between 9% and 47% of jobs are in danger of being made irrelevant due to technological change, with the worst threats falling among the less educated.
- Between 2.2 and 3.1 million car, bus, and truck driving jobs in the U.S. will be eliminated by the advent of self-driving vehicles.”
You might be thinking this won’t happen for several decades but researchers estimate the scale of threatened jobs will take place over the next 10–15 years. This wouldn’t be the first time major technological transformation affected our economy and job prospects. For example, in the nineteenth century, highly skilled artisans saw their livelihoods threatened by the rise of mass production technologies. Many skilled crafts were replaced by the combination of machines and lower-skilled labor.
In the late twentieth century, the onset of computers and the lightning-fast acceptance of the internet raised productivity of higher-skilled workers exponentially. Easily programmable tasks—such as switchboard operations, filing, travel booking, and manufacturing applications—were particularly vulnerable to replacement by new technologies. Over this period of time, we saw increased productivity in abstract thinking, creative tasks, and problem-solving which were partially responsible for substantial growth in jobs employing people with those traits.
The economy has repeatedly proven capable of handling this scale and speed of change, although the impact on individuals depends on how rapidly changes occur and how concentrated the losses are in specific occupations.
The White House report mentioned above advocates these strategies to prepare new workers to enter the workforce, help workers who lose jobs, and combat inequality:
Strategy #1: Invest in and develop AI for its benefits. With care to optimize its development responsibly, AI will make important, positive contributions to productivity growth, and advances in AI technology hold incredible potential to help the United States stay on the cutting edge of innovation.
Strategy #2: Educate and train Americans for jobs of the future. As AI changes the nature of work and the skills demanded by the labor market, American workers must be prepared with education and training for continuous success. This starts with providing all children with access to high-quality early education so all families can prepare students for continuing education.
Strategy #3: Aid workers in the transition, and empower workers to ensure broadly shared growth. Policymakers should ensure that workers and job seekers are both able to pursue the job opportunities for which they’re qualified, and to ensure they receive appropriate rising wages.
The Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) has identified four categories of jobs that might experience AI-driven growth in the future. Employment will grow where humans engage with existing AI technologies, develop new AI technologies, supervise AI technologies in practice, and facilitate societal shifts that accompany new AI technologies. Employment requiring manual dexterity, creativity, social interactions and intelligence, and general knowledge will most likely thrive.
Workers now earning less than $20 an hour who don’t have a college degree but want future job security need to advocate for themselves. They should learn new skills that increase earning potential. Contact a career counselor or a financial counselor for guidance. Use computer and library resources to stay informed about job markets and trends to avoid being caught off guard. These actions will keep changes in hiring trends uppermost in your mind as opportunities grow in the AI economy. We can’t stop these inevitable changes, but can prepare to meet the demands of a changing workforce
Donna Colfer is an Accredited Financial Counselor, Certified Money Coach, speaker, and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She combines practical financial guidance, sound psychological principles and universal spiritual beliefs to guide her clients to a more conscious awareness of their limiting behaviors relative to money. She writes a monthly column in the Kenwood Press called “Understanding Your Relationship with Money.” In addition to her financial background she has been a Minister and Spiritual Counselor since 1996. She blends these two areas in a professional and compassionate way that is truly powerful and effective in her work with individuals, couples, and groups. Visit her website at www.buildingwealthfromwithin.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org