3. AI comes for Detroit
Detroit has already seen scores of blue-collar workers displaced by the rise of robots. Now, as AI and machine learning get sharper, the city once again finds itself at the epicenter of automation-fueled unrest.
What's happening: While robots upend factory work and trucking in the middle of the country, AI and machine learning are coming for white-collar jobs in big cities. Detroit is poised to get hit on both ends of the spectrum.
The big picture: "AI will be as central to the white-collar office environment as robotics has been to the production economy," said Mark Muro, senior fellow and policy director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. "They'll fundamentally change what work is and what humans do. And no one gets a free pass."
A new analysis released Wednesday by Brookings overlaid the keywords in AI-related patents with job descriptions to get a more detailed understanding of which jobs are most likely to be affected by AI — and where they are.
- Industries at risk: Carmakers and clothing makers are using AI for advanced manufacturing on production lines — that’s far more complex than the routine, task-oriented automation that most robots power. Digital services like software publishing and computer system design also show high exposure, along with professional services like purchasing and agricultural work.
- Cities highly exposed to AI disruption: established or emerging tech hubs like San Jose, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Boulder and Huntsville. Also, agricultural centers like Madera and Salinas in California and logistics and advanced manufacturing hubs like Greenville (South Carolina), Louisville and Detroit are at risk.
The bottom line: White-collar work is poised to face the same turmoil as jobs at the lower end of the wage spectrum. But the higher-earning workers — who are likely to have more education and more diverse skills, as well as bigger bank accounts — will be far better prepared to navigate the tectonic shifts, Muro says.
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