AI to have major effects on better-paid, higher-educated workers: 5 things to know

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Contrary to the common thought that artificial intelligence will dramatically replace low-wage, factory occupations, the technology will have its greatest affects on higher-paid and higher-educated workers, according to a Brookings report.

The report, titled "What jobs are affected by AI? Better-paid, better-educated workers face the most exposure," three research analysists explored AI's implications on the labor market.

For the report, researchers analyzed the kinds of tasks and occupations likely to be affected by AI's machine learning capabilities, rather than automations' robotics and software impacts. Researchers used a technique developed by Stanford University PhD candidate Michael Webb to identify occupations' exposure levels to AI.

Mr. Webb created a method that uses machine learning in the form of natural language processing to quantify the overlap between text from AI patents and job descriptions.  In turn, researchers were able to score each job's exposure to AI.

Here are five things to know:

1. Although AI has the potential to affect every occupational group, white-collar jobs will see the greatest impacts. Those with graduate or professional degrees are four-times more likely to be exposed to AI compared to workers with just a high school degree. Employees with bachelor's degrees are more than five times as likely to be exposed to AI.

2. Specifically, well-paid managers, supervisors and analysts will feel the impacts of AI. Factory workers are also facing exposure to AI. People in lower-paid service jobs are much less likely to be affected by AI.

3. Within health support roles, veterinary assistants and laboratory animal assistants will experience the greatest exposure to AI. Medical equipment preparers, psychiatric aids, physician therapist assistants, nursing assistants and occupational therapy assistants will see moderate exposure to AI. Meanwhile, home health aides, dental assistants, medical assistants and pharmacy aides will face low exposure to AI.

4. When it comes to gender, men typically hold occupations that will have high exposure to AI. Women, who are involved in interpersonal education, healthcare support and personal care services, will avoid the affects of AI.

5. Bigger, higher-tech metro areas and communities that are heavily involved in manufacturing are most likely to see the most AI disruption. Specifically, Seattle, Detroit, Washington D.C. and Atlanta are among the areas that will have the most exposure to AI.

"In this regard, while the present assessment predicts areas of work in which some kind of impact is expected, it doesn't specially predict whether AI will substitute for existing work, compliment it or create entirely new work for humans," the authors concluded. "That means much more inquiry — qualitative and empirical — is needed to tease out AI's special genius and coming impacts."

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