For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Economics of Artificial Intelligence: Implications for the Future of Work"

by Ernst, Ekkehardt; Merola, Rossana; Samaan, Daniel (2019)


AbstractThe current wave of technological change based on advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) has created widespread fear of job loss and further rises in inequality. This paper discusses the rationale for these fears, highlighting the specific nature of AI and comparing previous waves of automation and robotization with the current advancements made possible by a widespread adoption of AI. It argues that large opportunities in terms of increases in productivity can ensue, including for developing countries, given the vastly reduced costs of capital that some applications have demonstrated and the potential for productivity increases, especially among the low skilled. At the same time, risks in the form of further increases in inequality need to be addressed if the benefits from AI-based technological progress are to be broadly shared. For this, skills policies are necessary but not sufficient. In addition, new forms of regulating the digital economy are called for that prevent further rises in market concentration, ensure proper data protection and privacy, and help share the benefits of productivity growth through the combination of profit sharing, (digital) capital taxation, and a reduction in working time. The paper calls for a moderately optimistic outlook on the opportunities and risks from AI, provided that policymakers and social partners take the particular characteristics of these new technologies into account.

Key Passage

Common to all these applications is that they concern tasks that are considered to require specific human capacities related to visual perception, speech, sentiment recognition, and decision-making. In other words, AI is replacing mental tasks rather than physical ones, which were the target of previous waves of mechanization. (p.3)


Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Political Economics, The Future Of Work, Economics, Technilogy


Future of Work, Economics, Automation

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