Tuesday, May 28, 2024

g-f(2)2437 AI Forces Economists to Reevaluate Automation’s Impact on Jobs and Inequality


genioux Fact post by Fernando Machuca and ChatGPT


The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) is prompting economists to rethink long-held beliefs about automation and its impact on the labor market. Historically, technology was seen as a force that increased productivity and raised living standards without causing widespread job loss. However, emerging evidence suggests that AI and digital technologies might not only displace workers but also exacerbate income inequality. This evolving understanding underscores the need for new economic models that better capture the nuanced effects of automation on employment and wages.

genioux GK Nugget

"AI's impact on the labor market is complex, capable of both enhancing productivity and exacerbating inequality, depending on how new technologies create or displace jobs and the extent to which workers influence their deployment." — Fernando Machuca and ChatGPT, May 28, 2024

genioux Foundational Fact

Economists have long viewed technological advancements as generally positive for the labor market, lifting overall productivity and living standards. However, new evidence indicates that AI and automation can significantly disrupt the workforce, displacing certain jobs and contributing to increased income inequality. This shift has led economists to develop new models that differentiate between technologies that automate existing tasks and those that create entirely new types of work, emphasizing the critical role of worker input in shaping the use of AI.

The 10 Most Relevant genioux Facts

  1. Historical Optimism: For decades, economists believed that technological advancements would not lead to mass unemployment but rather improve productivity and create new job opportunities.
  2. Rising Inequality: Digital technologies have contributed to increasing income inequality by boosting productivity for high-skilled jobs while reducing demand for middle-wage roles.
  3. Revised Models: New economic models now account for the displacement effects of automation, acknowledging that technological improvements can lower wages for certain groups of workers.
  4. Long-term Benefits: While technology tends to raise living standards in the long run, the immediate impacts on employment and wage distribution can be uneven and significant.
  5. Task-Based Analysis: Economists have shifted to a task-based analysis of labor, which helps explain how specific job functions are affected differently by automation.
  6. Creation of New Jobs: The ability of AI to create entirely new types of jobs is crucial for offsetting the displacement caused by automation.
  7. Worker Voice: The extent to which workers can influence the deployment of AI technologies is a critical factor in determining the overall impact on the labor market.
  8. Educational Mismatch: The increasing demand for highly educated workers due to technological advancements has contributed to wage disparities, particularly as higher education attainment rates have plateaued.
  9. "New Task" Model: The idea that technology can create new job categories and economic activities is central to understanding its positive impacts on labor markets.
  10. Policy Implications: Economists now emphasize the importance of policies and institutions that support the creation of new jobs and ensure that workers benefit from technological advancements.


As AI continues to evolve, it presents both opportunities and challenges for the labor market. Economists are rethinking their models to better understand and mitigate the adverse effects of automation on employment and wages. The future prosperity driven by AI will depend on its ability to create new job opportunities and the degree to which workers can participate in decision-making processes regarding its deployment. Ensuring that AI works for the benefit of all workers is essential for achieving widely shared economic growth and stability.


The g-f GK Context

Walter FrickAI Is Making Economists Rethink the Story of AutomationHarvard Business Review, May 27, 2024.


Walter Frick is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review, where he was formerly a senior editor and deputy editor of HBR.org. He is the founder of Nonrival, a newsletter where readers make crowdsourced predictions about economics and business. He has been an executive editor at Quartz as well as a Knight Visiting Fellow at Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism and an Assembly Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. He has also written for The Atlantic, MIT Technology Review, The Boston Globe, and the BBC, among other publications.

Classical Summary

The Harvard Business Review article "AI Is Making Economists Rethink the Story of Automation" by Walter Frick explores how the rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are prompting economists to revisit their understanding of technology’s impact on the labor market. Historically, economists believed that technological advancements, despite causing short-term disruptions, ultimately increased productivity and created new job opportunities, thereby raising living standards. However, recent developments in AI and automation have challenged this view, revealing that these technologies can also exacerbate income inequality and displace middle-wage jobs without creating sufficient new opportunities.

Economists like Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo highlight that while technology boosts productivity, it can also reduce wages for certain groups of workers. The article emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between technologies that automate existing tasks and those that create entirely new kinds of work. Additionally, the role of worker involvement in decision-making regarding technology deployment is crucial to ensuring that AI benefits are widely shared.

The article concludes that for AI to foster broad-based prosperity, it must generate new types of work that leverage human skills and include workers’ voices in the development and implementation of AI technologies. This shift in economic thinking underscores the need for updated models that better reflect the complexities of modern technological impacts on the workforce.

Walter Frick

Walter Frick is a distinguished figure in the field of journalism and business. He is currently a contributing editor at the Harvard Business Review (HBR), where he was formerly a senior editor and deputy editor of HBR.org³.

Before his tenure at HBR, Walter Frick was a regular contributor to The Atlantic’s Technology channel. His work has also been featured in The Atlantic Cities, BostInno, The Energy Collective, and The Greenlight Distrikt³. 

In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he served as the Communications Manager at the New England Clean Energy Council, a Boston-based nonprofit³. He also maintains a blog at www.beyondthetimes.com³.

Throughout his career, Walter Frick has demonstrated a deep understanding of business and technology, and his writings have significantly contributed to these fields. His work continues to influence readers and shape discussions around these topics. 

Please note that this information is based on the latest available data and may not include recent changes or updates to Walter Frick's career. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, it's recommended to visit his official profiles or contact him directly.

Source: Conversation with Copilot, 5/28/2024

(1) Walter Frick | Nieman Journalism Lab. https://www.niemanlab.org/author/wfrick/.

(2) Wilhelm Frick - Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_Frick.

(3) Wilhelm Frick | beyond the times  Economics, technology, and how we think. https://beyondthetimes.com/.

(4) Walter P. Frick - Oakland - LocalWiki. https://localwiki.org/oakland/Walter_P._Frick.

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This genioux Fact post is classified as Breaking Knowledge which means: Insights for comprehending the forces molding our world and making sense of news and trends.

Type: Breaking Knowledge, Free Speech

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