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If the Robots Come for Our Jobs, What Should the Government Do?

Lots of the smart technologists and futurists are convinced to say that we are on the cusp of a world in which the Artificial Intelligence, robotics and other technologies will make a very huge portion of today’s job obsolete.

They might be wrong at this might but if they are right that would be a huge potentially challenge to the decades ahead, and one that would probably demand the political attention.

Some of the potential answers are huge, ideas which have gained traction in particular ideological circles. A basic universal income — the idea that the government simply give each citizen enough money every month to support basic needs — has huge fans among both free-market libertarians and socialists.

The other ideas which are starting to percolate will have economic policy circles which may be advantages in terms of cost and political viability.

One of the interesting discussion that occurred in the paper published on Tuesday by the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal think tank, called “Don’t Fear the Robots.The economist Mark Paul who writes on a series of policy steps that are in isolation, not all the radical would go along toward ensuring the advantages of technological advancement would be widely enjoyed.

As an example to this, he says that the Federal Reserve and other policymaker ought to commit more energetically to pursuing a “maximum employment” goal set in federal law, even if it means being willing to tolerate a bit more risk in inflation.

Mr. Paul has argued on the rapid shifts over of technologies and of skills which are demanded by the modern economy strengthens the case of publicly funded higher education and training to help workers adapt.

This set of proposals is based on the idea that the huge change of digital disruption won’t result in the permanent loss of demand for workers, but rather shifts in what types of work the economy needs.

“We want a growing, robust economy,” Mr.Paul Said. “We just need proper policies in place to ensure that workers don’t bear the burden of that transition.”

The McKinsey Global Institute, the research of arm of consulting giant has produced extensive analysis that says that advances in information technology and robots will result endanger of millions of jobs in the coming decade, often emphasizes the role of subsidized education and training.

Susan Lund, a partner in the firm, says it is very crucial that the people must continually should upgrade their skills to keep up with the advanced changing technology, whether through the community colleges, traditional universities, or the narrowly targeted online training.

“Lifelong learning accounts would be interesting,” Ms.Lund Said, “and they could be federally funded or they could be funded by the employers, but what you want is for people to be able to available themselves of a two-month leave to take courses so that they can keep up with the change.”

Ms.Lund and her McKensey colleagues also have recommended the new approaches to making the job benefits like health insurance and retirement funds more “portable” so that they people could work independent contractors or who change jobs frequently can have the more stability.

In the particular, we could be headed toward the labor market, where actually the people with the high advanced skills will probably earn higher wages but where the workers without those skills will see the technology drive down demand for their services, depressing their pay.

“I tend to think that conversation should be open to new policies for a new economic reality,” Mr. Strain Said. “So if we end up in a world where the market wages for large groups of workers really are well below the wages they would be willing to work for, one way to combat that if you are serious about the importance of work would be significantly larger earnings subsidies than conservatives have been comfortable with.”

The unemployment rate is currently its lowest level of 18 years, and now the biggest challenge for the economy now is that productivity is too low, not that technology is causing productivity to be so high as to drive people out of jobs.

There is a lesson worth learning from Globalization and automation caused in the manufacturing industry is that from 1980s through the early of 2000s, millions of factory workers have lost their job.

The disruption to communities is still being felt, and is arguably at the root of a lot of the biggest social and economic problems of the era.

If the similar technology wave is about to wash over millions of services workers, we would all do well to try to keep the history from repeating itself.

Neil Irwin is a senior economics correspondent for The Upshot. He previously wrote for The Washington Post and is the author of “The Alchemists: Three Central Bankers and a World on Fire.” @Neil_Irwin Facebook

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