AI and its economic effect has been a popular topic at this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Many economists and executives alike agree that the advent and development of machines that can learn and act independently will increase jobs and raise overall prosperity, just as has happened in part times of industrialization. A fear with this argument is that the up side from this cycle might not be equally shared by mid-skilled workers.
Salesfore.com CEO Marc Benioff was quoted from a panel as saying, “I don’t thing you’ve even really seen the beginning of the disruption. The wave of technology will create a big increase in productivity. But we also risk getting a lot more inequality.” This is the point many are trying to make. For example, increased productivity in the industrial revolution didn’t see an increase in wages until some 80 years down the road when a new generation of workers began acquiring new skill sets.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella put it well when he said, “We’ve got to get somehow to this new formula where both the return on capital and the return on labor come together. If we don’t get it right we are going to have a vicious cycle.”