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Central Bankers Warned Of Possible Economic ‘Robocalypse’

An anonymous reader quotes the Seattle Times:
At an exclusive gathering at a golf resort near Lisbon, the big minds of monetary policy were seriously discussing the risk that artificial intelligence could eliminate jobs on a scale that would dwarf previous waves of technological change. “There is no question we are in an era of people asking, ‘Is the Robocalpyse upon us?'” David Autor, a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told an audience Tuesday that included Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and dozens of other top central bankers and economists… [A]long with the optimism is a fear that the economic expansion might bypass large swaths of the population, in part because a growing number of jobs could be replaced by computers capable of learning — artificial intelligence.
Policymakers and economists conceded that they have not paid enough attention to how much technology has hurt the earning power of some segments of society, or planned to address the concerns of those who have lost out… In the past, technical advances caused temporary disruptions but ultimately improved living standards, creating new categories of employment along the way… But artificial intelligence threatens broad categories of jobs previously seen as safe from automation, such as legal assistants, corporate auditors and investment managers. Large groups of people could become obsolete, suffering the same fate as plow horses after the invention of the tractor. “More and more, we are seeing economists saying, ‘This time could be different,’âS” said Autor, who presented a paper on the subject that he wrote with Anna Salomons, an associate professor at the Utrecht University School of Economics in the Netherlands.

Ultimately we’ll just have to wait and see, Autor concluded. “I say not Robocalpyse now. Perhaps Robocalpyse later.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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