Mar 21, 2024 - Technology

10% of workers are vulnerable to AI, advisers tell Biden

Woman typing on laptop

A woman works on her laptop in a cafe. Photo: Inga Kjer/Photothek via Getty Images

Roughly 10% of American workers are employed in jobs that are highly vulnerable to being impacted and possibly displaced by artificial intelligence.

Why it matters: Generative AI comes with a myriad of potential benefits, from boosting the economy to advancing cancer detection, but many U.S. workers remain distrustful of the technology and worried about how it will impact their jobs.

The big picture: Workers in lower-income and less skilled jobs are the most likely to experience disruption from AI, according to a new report the Council of Economic Advisers sent to President Biden Wednesday.

  • The council's findings, which were first reported by CNN, are based on an analysis of 16 work activities that are highly exposed to AI.
  • They looked at jobs in which those activities are central and highlighted the gap in performance requirements and income among jobs that could be impacted by AI.
  • While 20% of American workers are in high-AI exposure jobs, 10% of them are in jobs that have "low performance requirements," the council stated in the report.

Between the lines: Workers in higher-earning jobs that require more complex or difficult work are more insulated from being impacted, even if their jobs are highly exposed to AI.

  • "Because implementing AI as a human substitute is more costly and/or challenging for complex and difficult tasks, the analysis implies that AI may more quickly be able to substitute for employment in the lower-middle portion of the earnings distribution," the council stated.
  • As such, AI could worsen income inequality if it is used to replace workers in lower-income jobs while complementing higher-income ones, it added.

Caveat: That doesn't mean that the 10% of workers with high AI exposure but low-performance requirement jobs will all end up losing their jobs, the council stressed. Instead, those workers are most likely to see their jobs change as a result of AI.

  • "Most jobs remain a collection of tasks of which only a portion can be automated," the council stated.

Case in point: If AI ends up enabling self-driving school buses, a school bus driver may still be employed to ensure children enter and exit safely and behave while en route, the report noted.

Go deeper: Western countries are more pessimistic about AI

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