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AI, automation unlikely to lead to mass unemployment

New essay series from Fraser Institute indicates that burgeoning technologies will not lead to substantial job losses


Despite dire predictions, history and demographics suggest that burgeoning technologies (including automation, artificial intelligence and robotization) will not lead to substantial job losses, finds a new essay series released today by Vancouver-based Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank. 

“While some believe the rise of artificial intelligence and other technologies will lead to massive unemployment, the effect will likely resemble past experiences with other new technologies—new jobs will emerge as businesses and workers adapt,” said Steven Globerman, Fraser Institute senior fellow, contributing editor and author of the essay Artificial Intelligence and Employment: Will History Repeat?

A separate essay notes that, as baby boomers retire, Canada’s labour force will continue to shrink over the next few decades, further mitigating any job loss due to technology.

“The growth of technology combined with a shrinking labour force may actually produce a shortage of qualified workers in Canada, rather than the widespread unemployment predicted by doomsayers,” said Livio Di Matteo, Fraser Institute senior fellow and author of the essay Demographics, Technological Change, Participation Rates and Canada’s Future Labour Shortage.

And a third essay, A Curse on (Intelligent) Machines?, by Art Carden, an associate professor of economics at Samford University, puts this latest wave of largescale technological innovation in historical context, noting how past waves destroyed some jobs but created many more new jobs that ultimately enriched society.

“While automation, artificial intelligence and robotization will eliminate or change the nature of some jobs, these technologies will also create many new jobs at a time when demographic change will reduce the labour force as a share of the population,” Globerman said.