Background for the Report: Both the US and European Commission (EC) expressed strong interest during the US-EU Trade and Technology Council in late September 2021 in working on a joint study to assess the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on our workforces. The Pittsburgh statement committed to a joint “economic study examining the impact of AI on the future of our workforces, with attention to outcomes in employment, wages, and the dispersion of labor market opportunities. Through this collaborative effort, we intend to inform approaches to AI consistent with an inclusive economic policy that ensures the benefits of technological gains are broadly shared by workers across the wage scale” (White House 2021, European Commission 2021).
Scope of the Report: Given the expansiveness of the possible scope of the project, this report is not designed to be exhaustive; rather, it highlights some of the most important themes for the economics of AI in a balanced manner. Because of the unique collaboration between the EC and the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) on this work, our goal is to synthesize the perspectives of the US and European Union and academic work from both countries with a focus on implications relevant to policymakers. Our goal for this joint report is to strengthen collaboration on analysis and policy to ensure that the benefits of AI are broadly shared. The report is intended to highlight the economics
behind AI-driven technological change with a particular focus on the institutional and policy decisions that will shape its future impact on the workforce.
Executive Summary: AI is a fast-evolving technology with great potential to make workers more productive, to make firms more efficient, and to spur innovations in new products and services. At the same time, AI can also be used to automate existing jobs and exacerbate inequality, and it can lead to discrimination against workers. While previous technological advances in automation have tended to affect “routine” tasks, AI has the potential to automate “nonroutine” tasks, exposing large new swaths of the workforce to potential disruption. The challenge for policymakers is to foster progress and innovation in AI while shielding workers and consumers from potential types of harm that could arise. Parts I and II of this report introduce AI and document its widespread adoption in the European Union and the United States; part III focuses on AI’s impact on labor; part IV contains case studies on hiring and logistics; part V concludes.