Automation and AI will disrupt the American labor force. Here’s how we can protect workers



Robert Maxim and Mark Muro | Brookings Institution

Last month, we released research that suggests the next phases of workplace automation should be manageable for most workers, with only a quarter of the American workforce facing “high” exposure to automation technologies in the coming decades.

But that doesn’t mean the problem is insignificant. A quarter of the U.S. workforce consists of some 36 million people who will be highly exposed to automation, and could suffer displacement as a result.


The clear implication: Don’t expect this issue to sort itself out on its own. Indeed, even the Trump Administration acknowledged as much in its recent executive order on artificial intelligence (AI). While the executive order is light on details, it does direct the intergovernmental Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence to provide recommendations “regarding AI-related educational and workforce development considerations.”

What might some of these considerations look like? In our new report, we offer strategies for making the best of the automation era in the form of five major agendas to help maximize the benefits that automation and AI may bring, while mitigating the potential harms.

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