Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin declared last week that the threat of artificial intelligence taking over American jobs “is not even on my radar screen.” Mnuchin is “not worried at all,” at least not for the next 50 to 100 years. This was in sharp contrast to the attitude of the previous administration. President Obama, for example, opined that “We’ve been seeing specialized AI in every aspect of our lives, from medicine and transportation to how electricity is distributed, and it promises to create a vastly more productive and efficient economy… But it also has some downsides that we’re gonna have to figure out in terms of not eliminating jobs. It could increase inequality. It could suppress wages.”
How good or bad AI will be for employment and how soon its beneficial or detrimental effects will manifest themselves have been debated—loudly and persistently—over the last few years. Here’s a somewhat random collection of recent quantitative and qualitative assessments.
Entire jobs and specific work activities will (continue to) be automated…
38% of jobs in the United States, 35% of jobs in Germany, 30% of UK jobs and 21% of jobs in Japan could be at potential risk of automation by the early 2030s–PwC
More than 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human by 2020—Gartner
Automated vehicles could threaten or alter 2.2 million to 3.1 million existing U.S. jobs, including 1.7 million truck drivers—Executive Office of the President, December 2016
The world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock Inc., is entrusting more of its $5.1 trillion in assets to robot stock pickers to decide what to buy and sell. Seven portfolio managers are expected to leave—The Wall Street Journal