Managing automation

Employment, inequality and ethics in the digital age

By Carys Roberts; Mathew Lawrence; Loren King

As machines become increasingly capable of performing tasks once thought to be the sole preserve of people, some commentators have raised the spectre of mass unemployment and profound economic disruption. Yet despite the growing capability of robots and artificial intelligence, we are not on the cusp of a ‘post-human’ economy. Automation will produce significant productivity gains that will reshape specific sectors and occupations. In aggregate, however, these gains are likely to be recirculated, with jobs reallocated rather than eliminated, economic output increased, and new sources of wealth created. This discussion paper argues that public policy should seek to accelerate automation to reap the productivity benefits, while building new institutions to ensure the dividends of technological change are broadly shared.

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