White House Report Highlights Pros and Cons of AI on Economy

December 21, 2016 - 3 minutes read

The White House issued a follow-up to their fall report on artificial intelligence in the US economy this week, stirring up important debate among NYC app developers involved in ushering in the future of mainstream AI products.

While mostly positive in it’s outlook on how AI app development will affect the country, the researchers behind the report urge the app development industry and America at large to keep inequality and social issues at the top of their minds as more and more tasks are handed over to smart devices.

Says the report, “Accelerating AI capabilities will enable automation of some tasks that have long required human labor. These transformations will open up new opportunities for individuals, the economy, and society, but they will also disrupt the current livelihoods of millions of Americans. The new report examines the expected impact of AI-driven automation on the economy, and describes broad strategies that could increase the benefits of AI and mitigate its costs.”

Among the positive affects of AI cited in the report are the possibility of an increased high-skill job market, higher overall productivity, and of course the continued growth of employment and progress in the tech sector.

Negative possibilities include a high churn rate in the job market as the education system struggles to prepare students for realistic job prospects, and of course the loss of jobs overall as more low-skill tasks are handed off to AI hardware and software systems.

Unsurprisingly, the main thesis of the report seems to be a combination of increased investment in AI app development and an equally large investment in updating the US education system for a tech-centered future. Traditional manufacturing is likely to continue to decline in the US even if policy changes are able to return factories moved overseas, as more of those jobs are automated and consolidated by AI tech.

App developers will have a significant affect on how AI progresses in the US workforce, but the responsibility for how we as a society adapt will ultimately fall on everyone’s shoulders — and policy-makers especially. Will we be up to the challenge? Only time will tell, although rising tensions over economic inequality point to the probability that a rising economy doesn’t necessarily translate to a rising quality of life for the majority of working Americans.

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