The Future of Work in the Age of AI: Displacement or Risk-Shifting?
Oxford Handbook of Ethics of AI, pp. 271-87 (Markus Dubber, Frank Pasquale, and Sunit Das, eds.)
20 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2020
Date Written: July 9, 2020
This chapter examines the effects of artificial intelligence (AI) on work and workers. As AI-driven technologies are increasingly integrated into workplaces and labor processes, many have expressed worry about the widespread displacement of human workers. The chapter presents a more nuanced view of the common rhetoric that robots will take over people’s jobs. We contend that economic forecasts of massive AI-induced job loss are of limited practical utility, as they tend to focus solely on technical aspects of task execution, while neglecting broader contextual inquiry about the social components of work, organizational structures, and cross-industry effects. The chapter then considers how AI might impact workers through modes other than displacement. We highlight four mechanisms through which firms are beginning to use AI-driven tools to reallocate risks from themselves to workers: algorithmic scheduling, task redefinition, loss and fraud prediction, and incentivization of productivity. We then explore potential policy responses to both displacement and risk-shifting concerns.
Keywords: artificial intelligence, AI-driven technologies, workplaces, labor processes, displacement, human workers, AI-induced job loss, task execution, algorithmic scheduling, fraud prediction
JEL Classification: J01; J20; J22; J24
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation