Obama Thinks AI Will Create Jobs

Tuesday, 27 December 2016 - 11:15AM
Artificial Intelligence
Science News
Tuesday, 27 December 2016 - 11:15AM
Obama Thinks AI Will Create Jobs
The recently released White House report on "Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and the Economy" takes a surprisingly positive stance on the rapid growth of artificial intelligence. According to the report, "a strong case can be made in favor of increasing federal funding for research in AI." 

"As we look at AI, our biggest economic concern is that we wont have enough of it," says Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors. "AI will help make the pie bigger. We want to make sure that everyone benefits from that pie, and that includes steps like modernizing the social safety net, exploring ways to strengthen and reform unemployment insurance, adding wage insurance—and as a start—making sure you're not rolling back some of the critical supports that we have today."

To counter the job losses from automation, some countries are considering a concept called UBI, which stands for universal basic income. Under UBI, regular cash allotments are paid out to residents, whether or not they work. But Furman thinks that better strategies are already available. 

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Opening quote
"We should not advance a policy that is premised on giving up on the possibility of workers' remaining employed. Instead, our goal should be first and foremost to foster the skills, training, and job search assistance and other labor market institutions to make sure people can get into jobs, which would much more directly address the employment issues raised by AI than would UBI."
Closing quote


The Council identified four categories of jobs that could experience direct growth in employment as a result of the surge in AI technologies - engagement, development, supervision, and responses to paradigm shifts - the latter of which encapsulates new occupations that are not currently predictable, but which will be created by the AI revolution. 

They also suggested three broad strategies for addressing the impacts of AI-driven automation: investment and development of AI for its many benefits, education and training for all Americans for the jobs of the future, and aiding workers in the transition, and empowering workers to endure broadly shared growth. Among the most promising applications of AI are systems that could anticipate and defend against cyber attacks, and AI-based systems that could detect fraudulent transactions and messages. 

With the rise of the Trump administration, it's reassuring to hear that Obama's parting words are so pro-AI. Let's hope that these sentiments transcend the new administration.
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