Choosing AI’s Impact on the Future of Work 

Article by Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson  …“Too many commentators see the path of technology as inevitable. But the historical record is clear: technologies develop according to the vision and choices of those in positions of power. As we document in Power and Progress: Our 1,000-Year Struggle over Technology and Prosperity, when these choices are left entirely in the hands of a small elite, you should expect that group to receive most of the benefits, while everyone else bears the costs—potentially for a long time.

Rapid advances in AI threaten to eliminate many jobs, and not just those of writers and actors. Jobs with routine elements, such as in regulatory compliance or clerical work, and those that involve simple data collection, data summary, and writing tasks are likely to disappear.

But there are still two distinct paths that this AI revolution could take. One is the path of automation, based on the idea that AI’s role is to perform tasks as well as or better than people. Currently, this vision dominates in the US tech sector, where Microsoft and Google (and their ecosystems) are cranking hard to create new AI applications that can take over as many human tasks as possible.

The negative impact on people along the “just automate” path is easy to predict from prior waves of digital technologies and robotics. It was these earlier forms of automation that contributed to the decline of American manufacturing employment and the huge increase in inequality over the last four decades. If AI intensifies automation, we are very likely to get more of the same—a gap between capital and labor, more inequality between the professional class and the rest of the workers, and fewer good jobs in the economy….(More)”