The Future of Work: Automation’s Effect on Jobs—This Time Is Different

A robot creates automotive parts in a factory. (Photo: wi6995 /Shutterstock) Every week headlines announce breakthroughs in artificial intelligence—in robotics, machine perception, and advanced automation. Opinions about the societal impact of this rapidly accelerating technological revolution span the spectrum from anticipated utopias to the fear of existential threats to humanity. Nils J. Nilsson is the Kumagai Professor of Engineering, Emeritus in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University. My own concern is about the effects of AI on employment. In my nearly 50 years of research on AI, I have grown increasingly convinced that AI will have a major impact on employment. I have concentrated on “strong AI,” which has as its goal automating all the tasks, cognitive as well as physical, that humans can perform. Strong AI differs…


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