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Artificial intelligence

AI will disrupt white-collar workers the most, predicts a new report

November 20, 2019
Office workers in Russia
Office workers in Russia
Office workers in RussiaDavid Mark | Pixabay

A surprise finding: Conventional wisdom says robotics, artificial intelligence, and automation will radically alter work for blue-collar truckers and factory workers. In fact, white-collar jobs will be affected more, according to a new analysis by the Brookings Institution.

The analysis: Researchers looked at the text of AI patent and job descriptions, and quantified the overlap in order to identify the kinds of tasks and occupations likely to be affected. The analysis says that AI will be a significant factor in the future work lives of managers, supervisors, and analysts, shaking up all sorts of white-collar work from law firms, marketing roles, and publishers to computer programming.

A caveat: Although white-collar workers are likely to bear a significant share of the disruption AI and automation brings, they may find it easier to retrain or find alternative roles, because they are more likely to live in cities or have college degrees. 

Yet another report: AI is yet to be widely adopted by businesses, despite the huge hype around it. And while there has been a lot of discussion about the impact of AI on jobs, it hasn’t been clear what the impact will be. We’ve seen everything from predictions of a disastrous cull of 47% of US jobs to claims that, actually, AI will create as many jobs as it destroys, if not more. As a result, it is sensible to see this latest analysis as a contribution to a busy field rather than the last word on the topic.

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