CCTP-701-01 Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work
Spring for 2016-2017

Computer-based systems today can outperform people in more and more tasks once considered to be within the exclusive competence of humans. Automation has historically produced both long-term growth and full employment, despite initial job losses. But the next generation of really smart AI-based machines could create the sustained technological unemployment that John Maynard Keynes warned against in the 1930s.

This time it could be different. The fear that people could go the way of horses and lose their economic role entirely is far-fetched, but AI will disrupt traditional jobs, even those with heavy reliance on cognitive skills like doctors, lawyers, journalists and teachers. And the chances of a less labor-intensive economy are significant enough to warrant serious attention from policymakers.

This course will review the field, aiming to give students a thorough grounding in the technology, history, and economics of the issues and a glimpse at the possible policy responses. Specific sections of the course include: the role of information technology in wage stagnation and inequality; changes AI might make in the nature of work, including designing smart machines to complement rather than eliminate human labor; use of AI algorithms in hiring, promotion and workplace management; new institutional arrangements to accommodate the rise of technology-enabled independent workers; and, short term education policy responses to enable people to race more effectively against machines and longer term polices for income support in an age of reduced need for human labor.

Readings will include Jerry Kaplan, Humans Need Not Apply; Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, The Second Machine Age; Robert Gordon, The Rise and Fall of American Growth.

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: no

Course syllabi
The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
Spring '17: MacCarthy, M (description, file download)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.
More information
Look for this course in the schedule of classes.

The academic department web site for this program may provide other details about this course.