The power and prospect of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) initially alarmed technology experts, for fear that machine advancements would destroy jobs. Then came a correction of sorts, with a wave of reassurances minimizing their negative impacts. Now, the discourse appears to be arriving at a more complicated, mixed understanding that suggests that automation will bring neither apocalypse nor utopia, but instead both benefits and stresses alike. Such is the ambiguous and sometimes disembodied nature of the “future of work” discussion.
Which is where the present analysis aims to help. Intended to clear up misconceptions on the subject of automation, the following report employs government and private data, including from the McKinsey Global Institute, to develop both backward- and forward-looking analyses of the impacts of automation over the years 1980 to 2016 and 2016 to 2030 across some 800 occupations. In doing so, the report assesses past and coming trends as they affect both people and communities, and suggests a comprehensive response framework for national and state-local policymakers.