The report acknowledges that artificial intelligence (AI) can "open up new opportunities for individuals, the economy, and society," but cautions that to mitigate negative effects on the economy, policymakers must prepare for a workforce in need of new skills, the phasing out of old jobs, and the creation of new ones, as well as a number of other issues.
Though the diversity of the technology makes prediction all but impossible, the report suggests that, "It is possible that AI will not have large, new effects on the economy, such that the coming years are subject to the same basic workforce trends seen in recent decades — some of which are positive, and others which are worrisome and may require policy changes…Because the effects of AI-driven automation will be felt across the whole economy, and the areas of greatest impact may be difficult to predict, policy responses must be targeted to the whole economy."
The White House recommended strengthening services under the "social safety net," including Medicaid, wage insurance food stamps, unemployment insurance, and other benefits, along with making post-secondary-school education programs affordable and giving children access to early education.
Strengthening the social safety net in the US seems unlikely, however, as incoming President Donald Trump has chosen as his labor secretary Andrew Puzder, a wealthy businessman vocally against public services, including raising the minimum wage and paid sick leave.
On Tuesday Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters, "One implication of this analysis is if you, for example, seriously roll back the social safety net that would potentially be more risky at a time when you have these types of changes in the economy…It would certainly heighten the set of concerns one already would have had."
One of many factors policymakers must now consider is how to effectively address what the report calls "algorithmic bias," a technique employed by companies in which data from various sources is compiled to discern eligibility for insurance and credit scores.
To address the bias, the report suggests encouraging "diversity and inclusion in STEM fields," and focusing on ethics in computer science and data science education.
Even by conservative estimates, the report indicated that human workers "maintain a comparative advantage over AI" because of their capacity for creativity and judgement, adding that "Occupations that require manual dexterity will also likely remain in demand in the near term."
The report concluded, "AI raises many new policy questions, which should be continued topics for discussion and consideration by future Administrations, Congress, the private sector, academia, and the public," and, "Continued engagement among government, industry, technical and policy experts, and the public should play an important role in moving the Nation toward policies that create broadly shared prosperity, unlock the creative potential of American companies and workers, and ensure America’s continued leadership in the creation and use of AI."