The A.I. Revolution Will Change Work. Nobody Agrees How.

Logo The New York TimesThe New York Times
2023-06-10 09:00:25  • 7 mins

The tally of how many jobs will be affected by world-changing technology is different depending on who you ask.

In 2013, researchers at Oxford University published a startling number about the future of work: 47 percent of all United States jobs, they estimated, were at risk of automation over some unspecified number of years, perhaps a decade or two.

But a decade later, unemployment in the country is at record low levels. The tsunami of grim headlines back then like The Rich and Their Robots Are About to Make Half the Worlds Jobs Disappear look wildly off the mark.

But the studys authors say they didnt actually mean to suggest doomsday was near. Instead, they were trying to describe what technology was capable of.

It was the first stab at what has become a long-running thought experiment, with think tanks, corporate research groups and economists publishing paper after paper to pinpoint how much work is affected by or exposed to technology.

In other words: If cost of the tools werent a factor, and the only goal was to automate as much human labor as possible, how much work could technology take over?

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