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Economics of Artificial Intelligence: Implications for the Future of Work

Ekkehard Ernst (), Rossana Merola and Samaan Daniel ()
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Samaan Daniel: Research Department, International Labour Organisation, Route des Morillons 4, 1211Geneva, Switzerland

IZA Journal of Labor Policy, 2019, vol. 9, issue 1, 35

Abstract: The 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.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; technological unemployment; inequality; productivity growth (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J23 J24 O00 E24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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