Innovation

White House details AI's scary impact on jobs, and how government can fix it

Ahead of its Frontiers Conference, the White House released a report that details some of the opportunities and challenges regarding the future of artificial intelligence.

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Image: iStockphoto/Marek Redesiuk

Artificial intelligence (AI) could potentially eliminate many jobs through automation, but government intervention could help lessen the potential impact, according to a White House report released Wednesday. The report, titled "Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence," seeks to explain the technologies associated with AI and prepare citizens for its effect on their lives.

There's no denying that AI could be a double-edged sword for the economy. Automation through AI will likely "increase productivity and create wealth," and increase demand for skills associated with AI development, the report stated. But it could also reduce demand for skills that could be automated away, and increase the wage gap between people with differing levels of education, according to the report.

In order to make sure that some workers aren't negatively impacted by the growth of AI and automation, the White House report called for interventions in the form of public policy and regulations that can "ensure that the economic benefits created by AI are shared broadly, and assure that AI responsibly ushers in a new age in the global economy," the report stated.

SEE: Why AI could destroy more jobs than it creates, and how to save them

Another reason for pursuing public policy relative to AI, the report argued, is to make sure workers who may be most impacted by automation have the option for retraining for a role that is more of a complement to AI. However, to further investigate the impact of AI on the US economy, the White House is planning to perform a future study on the matter, and what policy responses could be most effective, which will be "published in the coming months."

On the flip side of the equation, the rise of AI will lead to more jobs for people with the skillset necessary to advance the technology and its applications. According to the report, the AI-enabled future of the world "demands a data-literate citizenry that is able to read, use, interpret, and communicate about data, and participate in policy debates about matters affected by AI."

Because of this, the report's authors called for federal STEM programs to focus on AI elements, and for a continued emphasis on computer science education during the early years of schooling. The report also noted the importance of ethical training for AI experts, and encouraged a deeper focus on diversity in the AI workforce.

Another interesting portion of the report was titled "Applications of AI for Public Good." In this section, the report authors gave examples of AI being used to assist healthcare professionals, manage traffic patterns, and track animal migrations. To improve current tools, and create new ones, the report urged companies to release as much data as they can to help train the systems.

The federal government is also making its own investment into AI through specific programs and practices. However, as the government isn't typically regarded as an early adopter of disruptive technologies, this could be more difficult to develop.

A large portion of the White House report is spent defining AI and its various components, including a glossary of terms and acronyms. It also includes 23 detailed recommendations for how the government can play its role in the future of AI.

Read the full report here.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. The White House released its "Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence" report on Wednesday, defining AI technologies and explaining how they will affect everyday life for Americans.
  2. Automation, prompted through AI, will likely eliminate many jobs, and the report called for government regulation and policies to help protect the workers it could replace.
  3. The new report also called for more AI in STEM education, and for more applications of AI for public good.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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