Written by: Stephen Hsu
Primary Source: Information Processing
The figures below are from the recent paper Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets, by Acemoglu and Restrepo.
… Estimates suggest that an extra robot per 1000 workers reduces the employment to population ratio by 0.18-0.34 percentage points and wages by 0.25-0.5%. This effect is distinct from the impacts of imports, the decline of routine jobs, offshoring, other types of IT capital, or the total capital stock.
If the robot does the work of a few workers, that explains the fraction of a percent (negative) effect on employment and compensation in a model with direct substitution of robot labor for human work, and smaller second order (positive) effect from comparative advantage of humans in complementary jobs. This is not the optimistic scenario where buggy whip makers displaced by the automobile easily find good new jobs in the expanded economy. We can expect to see many more robots (and virtual AI robots) per 1000 workers in the near future.
Related talk at HKUST by Harvard labor economist Richard Freeman: Work and Income in the Age of Robots and AI. This time it’s different?
Here’s Richard in 2011 when we were working on a project at Alibaba headquarters :-)