Distinguished MIT labor economist David Autor, who I reference in my book Openness to Creative Destruction: Sustaining Innovative Dynamism, was a co-chair of the MIT Work of the Future Task Force that wrote the report discussed in the article quoted below.
(p. B3) L. Rafael Reif, the president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, delivered an intellectual call to arms to the university’s faculty in November 2017: Help generate insights into how advancing technology has changed and will change the work force, and what policies would create opportunity for more Americans in the digital economy.
That issue, he wrote, is the “defining challenge of our time.”
Three years later, the task force assembled to address it is publishing its wide-ranging conclusions. The 92-page report, “The Work of the Future: Building Better Jobs in an Age of Intelligent Machines,” was released on Tuesday [November 17, 2020].
. . .
Technology has always replaced some jobs, created new ones and changed others. The question is whether things will be different this time as robots and artificial intelligence quickly take over for humans on factory floors and in offices.
The M.I.T. researchers concluded that the change would be more evolutionary than revolutionary. In fact, they wrote, “we anticipate that in the next two decades, industrialized countries will have more job openings than workers to fill them.”
That judgment is informed by field research in several industries and sectors including insurance, health care, driverless vehicles, logistics and warehouses, advanced manufacturing, and small and medium-size manufacturers.
. . .
Despite advances, robots simply don’t have the flexibility and dexterity of human workers. Today’s robots learn from data and repetition. They can be remarkably adept at a certain task, but only that one. The report cited a fine-tuned gripping robot that could pluck a glazed doughnut and carefully place it in a box, with its shiny glaze undisturbed.
“But that gripper only works on doughnuts,” the report said. “It can’t pick up a clump of asparagus or a car tire.”
The cost and operational expertise required will also slow the widespread adoption of robots.
For the full story, see:
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Nov. 17, 2020, and has the title “Don’t Fear the Robots, and Other Lessons From a Study of the Digital Economy.”)
The MIT report discussed above is:
My book mentioned above is:
Diamond, Arthur M., Jr. Openness to Creative Destruction: Sustaining Innovative Dynamism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019.