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Erik Brynjolfsson: Bullish on AI Innovation, Not on Rust-belt Jobs

December 07, 2016


With all eyes laser-focused on job creation since the November U.S. presidential elections, Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) , offers his thoughts about growing sectors of the economy — such as AI innovation — and soft spots, like traditional manufacturing jobs.

Despite Donald Trump’s promises, “The traditional kinds of factory work are not coming back,” Brynjolfsson, told WIRED in this article. “The implacable forces of automation guarantee that whatever jobs may return to the Rust Belt won’t look like those of days gone by,” the article concludes.

Additionally, Brynjolfsson said that focusing on trade deals rather than the implementation of robotics in factories is a disservice to Rust Belt voters. “It would be misleading to give people the impression that something like tariffs on China or Mexico, or trade barriers would bring any significant number of those jobs back,” he says.

“The trends are much more fundamental, and they’re worldwide.” Promises to bring steel back to Pennsylvania or cars to Michigan are romantic but disregard the fact that current factories employ a fraction of employees of their 1970s counterparts, he says.

Most recently, Brynjolfsson also commented on the Dec. 15 meeting between Trump and tech executives. Read more here.

In another interview, Brynjolfsson told that there is much to be optimistic about. He said: “There has been a burst of innovations recently, especially in artificial intelligence, ​that we will see come to fruition in the next five to 15 years. You can easily imagine that as these come to maturity and pervade the economy, the effects will be staggering.”

Brynjolfsson and IDE co-director, Andrew McAfee, have written extensively about the impact of automation on the economy and jobs in their best-selling book, The Second Machine Age. Also read more here .


Read on Medium, here.