White House: Education Will Save Jobs From A.I.
The arrival of artificial intelligence (A.I.) means faster data processing and more efficient automation, but it could also mean massive job losses for human beings. In a study of the impact of A.I. on our future, published by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, the White House lays out what could be the only way to stave off widespread A.I.-induced unemployment: education. The report also touches on the trending notion that some or all of our current safety nets for the unemployed could be replaced by a Universal Basic Income (UBI), which would provide cash to citizens regardless of employment status. Proponents of UBI point to A.I. as evidence the concept will work. But the White House rejects that premise. "The issue is not that automation will render the vast majority of the population unemployable," read the report. "Instead, it is that workers will either lack the skills or the ability to successfully match with the good, high paying jobs created by automation. While a market economy will do much of the work to match workers with new job opportunities, it does not always do so successfully, as we have seen in the past half-century." The report continued: "We should not advance a policy that is premised on giving up on the possibility of workers’ remaining employed." Instead, there should be a renewed focus on fostering "the skills, training, job search assistance, and other labor market institutions to make sure people can get into jobs, which would much more directly address the employment issues raised by A.I. than would UBI." In fact, The White House calls for additional investment in artificial intelligence, especially for “cyberdefense and the detection of fraudulent transactions and messages.” But how would education change? The Obama administration's proposal suggests that massive investment is key. "This starts with providing all children with access to high-quality early education so that all families can prepare their students for continued education," the report read, "as well as investing in graduating all students from high school college- and career- ready, and ensuring that all Americans have access to affordable post-secondary education." Adult workers will also need education-related assistance, the report continued: "This includes expanding the availability of job-driven training and opportunities for lifelong learning, as well as providing workers with improved guidance to navigate job transitions." The White House also lays its ideals at the feet of the Trump administration: “Responding to the economic effects of A.I.-driven automation will be a significant policy challenge for the next Administration and its successors.” The paper makes plenty of good arguments for A.I., as well as changing our current slate of educational programs so that students can prepare for the future. Many parallels between our current environment and the Industrial Revolution are made: just as in that bygone era, machines are rapidly altering human labor practices. The key is to avoid (or at least mitigate) some of the unemployment and other economic damage that occurred in past centuries.