Could Machine Learning Be a General Purpose Technology? A Comparison of Emerging Technologies Using Data from Online Job Postings

67 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2022 Last revised: 2 Nov 2022

See all articles by Avi Goldfarb

Avi Goldfarb

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

Bledi Taska

Emsi Burning Glass

Florenta Teodoridis

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

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Date Written: February 2022

Abstract

General purpose technologies (GPTs) push out the production possibility frontier and are of strategic importance to managers and policymakers. While theoretical models that explain the characteristics, benefits, and approaches to create and capture value from GPTs have advanced significantly, empirical methods to identify GPTs are lagging. The handful of available attempts are typically context specific and rely on hindsight. For managers deciding on technology strategy, it means that the classification, when available, comes too late. We propose a more universal approach of assessing the GPT likelihood of emerging technologies using data from online job postings. We benchmark our approach against prevailing empirical GPT methods that exploit patent data and provide an application on a set of emerging technologies. Our application exercise suggests that a cluster of technologies comprised of machine learning and related data science technologies is relatively likely to be GPT.

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Suggested Citation

Goldfarb, Avi and Taska, Bledi and Teodoridis, Florenta, Could Machine Learning Be a General Purpose Technology? A Comparison of Emerging Technologies Using Data from Online Job Postings (February 2022). NBER Working Paper No. w29767, Rotman School of Management Working Paper No. 4039486, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4039486

Avi Goldfarb (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada
416-946-8604 (Phone)
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Bledi Taska

Emsi Burning Glass ( email )

66 Long Wharf, Floor 2
Boston, MA 02110

Florenta Teodoridis

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business ( email )

701 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA California 90089
United States

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