Category Archives: Automation & Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence, Discretion, and Bureaucracy

Source: Justin B. Bullock, The American Review of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, Published June 18, 2019
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From the abstract:
This essay highlights the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in governance and society and explores the relationship between AI, discretion, and bureaucracy. AI is an advanced information communication technology tool (ICT) that changes both the nature of human discretion within a bureaucracy and the structure of bureaucracies. To better understand this relationship, AI, discretion, and bureaucracy are explored in some length. It is argued that discretion and decision-making are strongly influenced by intelligence, and that improvements in intelligence, such as AI, can help improve the overall quality of administration. Furthermore, the characteristics, strength, and weaknesses of both human discretion and AI are explored. Once these characteristics are laid out, a further exploration of the role AI may play in bureaucracies and bureaucratic structure is presented, followed by a specific focus on systems-level bureaucracies. In addition, it is argued that task distribution and task characteristics play a large role, along with the organizational and legal context, in whether a task favors human discretion or the use of AI. Complexity and uncertainty are presented as the major defining characteristics for categorizing tasks. Finally, a discussion is provided about the important cautions and concerns of utilizing AI in governance, in particular, with respect to existential risk and administrative evil.

The Future Of Work 2.0: Navigating The Transition To New Possibilities

Source: David Gibson, Aspen Institute, Report Of The 2018 Aspen Institute Roundtable On Institutional Innovation, 2019

From the summary:
Today’s leading businesses are dealing with a changing work environment that goes beyond artificial intelligence and robots. Instead, it encompasses the work machines and humans will do together. This report of the 2018 Roundtable, written by David Gibson, explores the Future of Work 2.0—focusing on how all stakeholders can realize the opportunities and possibilities of automation in the work landscape. It features a robust discussion on education, business structures, models of employment and leadership philosophies.

Chapters include:
Introduction
AI, Robotics and the Future of Work
Building the New Workspace
Maximizing Human Capital
The Future of Leadership

Visit the interactive Institutional Innovation report website to further explore the report.

Robotic health care is coming to a hospital near you

Source: Mattie Milner, Stephen Rice, The Conversation, May 7, 2019

Medical robots are helping doctors and other professionals save time, lower costs and shorten patient recovery times, but patients may not be ready. Our research into human perceptions of automated health care finds that people are wary of getting their health care from an automated system, but that they can adjust to the idea – especially if it saves them money.

Hospitals and medical practices are already using a fair amount of automation. For instance, in one San Francisco hospital and other places, delivery robots – about the size of a mini-fridge – zip through the hallways delivering pills, bringing lunch to patients and ferrying specimens and medical equipment to different labs. Some hospitals are set up for delivery robots to open remote-control doors and even use elevators to get around the building.

Workforce Automation: Better Data Needed to Assess and Plan for Effects of Advanced Technologies on Jobs

Source: GAO-19-257, Published: March 7, 2019

From the summary:
Robots, artificial intelligence, and other advanced technologies are changing the workplace. We visited companies to observe the effects on workers. Effects varied, with some companies reducing their workforces, many moving workers to different roles, and some hiring workers due to increased production or new skill needs.

Workforce data doesn’t identify the causes of employment shifts, making it difficult to assess technology’s effects. Additional information could help agencies design programs to prepare workers for jobs of the future.

We recommended that the Department of Labor develop ways to better track workforce effects of technologies…..

Women, Automation, and the Future of Work

Source: Ariane Hegewisch, Chandra Childers, Heidi Hartmann, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, IWPR #C47, March 13, 2019

From the executive summary:
From driverless cars to factories operated by robots and stores with self-checkout systems, automation and technology are changing the way we perceive and do work. But how do all these technological changes affect men and women differently?

According to Women, Automation, and the Future of Work, an Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) report, technological change will affect men and women differently in a number of ways. The first study of its kind in the United States, this report estimates the risk of automation across occupations by gender and presents a comprehensive picture of what we know—and what we don’t—about how the future of work will affect women workers.

This study finds that discussions about technological change and the future of work must include gender as part of the analysis. That’s because the jobs most commonly held by women—cashiers,secretaries, and bookkeeping clerks, for example—face some of the highest risks of becoming automated in the future. And while men are not immune to the risks of technological change, women are even more likely to work in jobs where technology and automation threaten to displace them.

This report examines not only the impact of these technological shifts on the quantity of jobs but also the quality of jobs in the future. Drawing on occupational projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and recent research on the potential for automation across occupations, IWPR researchers developed a Future of Work Database to analyze the potential impact of technological changes on:

■ the number of jobs
■ the nature of work and how it’s done
■ the quality of work
■ the future of work and family

By increasing our understanding of the potential impact of these technological changes, we can create more gender-aware policies that will increase equality and the quality of jobs in the coming decades.

Automation and a Changing Economy

Source: Conor McKay, Ethan Pollack & Alastair Fitzpayne, Aspen Institute, Future of Work Initiative, April 2019

Automation is an important ingredient driving economic growth and progress. Automation has enabled us to feed a growing population while allowing workers to transition from subsistence farming to new forms of work. Automation helped moved us from a craft system to mass production, from blue-collar to white-collar to “new collar” work—with better work, higher wages, more jobs, and better living standards.

But without adequate policies and institutions, automation can also have negative effects on individuals and communities. Emerging technologies—including artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced robotics—have the potential to automate many tasks currently performed by workers, leading to renewed questions over what the future holds for the American workforce. We must ensure the proper support structures are in place to promote opportunity and prosperity for all.
Automation and a Changing Economy is divided into two sections.

Part I, Automation and a Changing Economy: The Case for Action, explores how automation impacts the economic security and opportunity of the American worker…..

Part II of this report, Automation and a Changing Economy: Policies for Shared Prosperity, outlines a program to address automation’s challenges and opportunities……

Related:
Executive Summary

Automation and New Tasks: How Technology Displaces and Reinstates Labor

Source: Daron Acemoglu – MIT and NBER, Pascual Restrepo – Boston University, March 5, 2019

From the abstract:
We present a framework for understanding the effects of automation and other types of technological changes on labor demand, and use it to interpret changes in US employment over the recent past. At the center of our framework is the allocation of tasks to capital and labor—the task content of production. Automation, which enables capital to replace labor in tasks it was previously engaged in, shifts the task content of production against labor because of a displacement effect. As a result, automation always reduces the labor share in value added and may reduce labor demand even as it raises productivity. The effects of automation are counterbalanced by the creation of new tasks in which labor has a comparative advantage. The introduction of new tasks changes the task content of production in favor of labor because of a reinstatement effect,and always raises the labor share and labor demand. We show how the role of changes in the task content of production—due to automation and new tasks—can be inferred from industry-level data. Our empirical decomposition suggests that the slower growth of employment over the last three decades is accounted for by an acceleration in the displacement effect, especially in manufacturing, a weaker reinstatement effect, and slower growth of productivity than in previous decades

Future Work

Source: Jeffrey M. Hirsch – University of North Carolina School of Law, February 14, 2019

From the abstract:
The Industrial Revolution. The Digital Age. These revolutions radically altered the workplace and society. We may be on the cusp of a new era—one that will rival or even surpass these historic disruptions. Technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and cutting-edge monitoring devices are developing at a rapid pace. These technologies have already begun to infiltrate the workplace and will continue to do so at ever increasing speed and breadth.

This Article addresses the impact of these emerging technologies on the workplace of the present and the future. Drawing upon interviews with leading technologists, the Article explains the basics of these technologies, describes their current applications in the workplace, and predicts how they are likely to develop in the future. It then examines the legal and policy issues implicated by the adoption of technology in the workplace—most notably job losses, employee classification, privacy intrusions, discrimination, safety and health, and impacts on disabled workers. These changes will surely strain a workplace regulatory system that is ill-equipped to handle them. What is unclear is whether the strain will be so great that the system breaks, resulting in a new paradigm of work.

Whether or not we are on the brink of a workplace revolution or a more modest evolution, emerging technology will exacerbate the inadequacies of our current workplace laws. This Article discusses possible legislative and judicial reforms designed to ameliorate these problems and stave off the possibility of a collapse that would leave a critical mass of workers without any meaningful protection, power, or voice. The most far-reaching of these options is a proposed “Law of Work” that would address the wide-ranging and interrelated issues posed by these new technologies via a centralized regulatory scheme. This proposal, as well as other more narrowly focused reforms, highlight the major impacts of technology on our workplace laws, underscore both the current and future shortcomings of those laws, and serve as a foundation for further research and discussion on the future of work.

Automation and New Tasks: The Implications of the Task Content of Production for Labor Demand

Source: Daron Acemoglu – MIT, Pascual Restrepo – Boston University, November 6, 2018

From the abstract:
We present a framework for understanding the effects of automation and other types of technological changes on labor demand, and use it to interpret changes in US employment over the recent past. At the center of our framework is the task content of production. Automation, which enables capital to replace labor in tasks it was previously engaged in, shifts the task content of production against labor because of a displacement effect. As a result, automation always reduces the labor share in value added (of an industry or economy) and may also reduce labor demand even as it raises productivity. The effects of automation are counterbalanced by the creation of new tasks in which labor has a comparative advantage. The introduction of new tasks changes the task content of production in favor of labor because of a reinstatement effect, and always raises the labor share and labor demand. We show how the role of changes in the task content of production—due to automation and new tasks—can be inferred from industry-level data. Our empirical decomposition suggests that the slower growth of employment over the last three decades is accounted for by an acceleration in the displacement effect, especially in manufacturing, a weaker reinstatement effect, and slower growth of productivity than in previous decades.

Towards an AI Economy That Works for All

Source: Stephen Herzenberg, Keystone Research Center, February 2019

From the summary:
This is the first report of a Keystone Research Center project on the “Future of Work.” The aim is to identify public policies that could help ensure that the application and diffusion of artificial intelligence (AI) over the next several decades fosters an economy in which Americans generally thrive. The project is motivated, in part, by concern that the opposite could occur: that AI will exacerbate the already high levels of income and wealth inequality in the United States. Our most important conclusion is that AI need not make our inequalities more severe. Creative public policies could lead to an AI economy “that works for the many, not just the few.”

The study design has been informed by the two principal authors’ experience at the one-time Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) of the US Congress. To guide the undertaking and provide feedback on its products, we recruited an advisory panel of nationally recognized academics and representatives of think tanks and the corporate, labor, and non-profit sectors. The project methodology combines interviews with technology experts, policy analysis, synthesis of research literature and, still to come, sectoral studies.

This first report contains three main parts. (1) Following an introduction, Sections II-IV contain an analysis of AI’s likely impacts through the lens of technology. Section II reviews past impacts of innovations including robotics and information technology on the economy and jobs. Section III looks at AI itself, how it does and does not go beyond previous technologies and substitute for human capacities and intelligence. Section IV explores the difficulties of predicting AI’s job impacts. (2) Section V, “The Plight of the American Worker,” considers the labor market context in which AI systems will spread and the roots of the economic inequality from which the nation suffers. (3) Section VI surveys policies that could influence inequality and the distribution of the benefits of productivity growth as AI spreads.

Related:
Press Release