Jan 8, 2021

MIT Report: Robots Aren’t the Biggest Threat to the Future of Work—Policy Is

Posted by in categories: economics, employment, policy, robotics/AI

But the MIT report also acknowledges that while fears of an imminent jobs apocalypse have been over-hyped, the way technology has been deployed over recent decades has polarized the economy, with growth in both white-collar work and low-paid service work at the expense of middle-tier occupations like receptionists, clerks, and assembly-line workers.

This is not an inevitable consequence of technological change, though, say the authors. The problem is that the spoils from technology-driven productivity gains have not been shared equally. The report notes that while US productivity has risen 66 percent since 1978, compensation for production workers and those in non-supervisory roles has risen only 10 percent.

“People understand that automation can make the country richer and make them poorer, and that they’re not sharing in those gains,” economist David Autor, a co-chair of the task force, said in a press release. “We need to restore the synergy between rising productivity and improvements in labor market opportunity.”

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