In early 2017, President Obama's top economic and science advisors wrote a report entitled, "Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and the Economy."
The report is a cleared-eyed collation of current data and predictions pertaining to the accelerating pace of adoption of automation and AI technologies starting from around 2010.
The full report is worth a look, but the top line findings are probably familiar. The analysts found that the day when robots will replace all workers is still remote, and any timeline for that happening is speculative at best. But the transition underway in the global economy due to automation technologies is undeniable and unstoppable.
"The major difference with the past is that today's automation technologies are highly intelligent and able to learn," explains Lorenzo Fioramonti, professor of political economy at the University of Pretoria, anticipating and responding to a common argument that today's automation is in no way distinct from past instances of technological disruption.
The Obama White House report found that, globally, political leaders are ill-informed about and unprepared for the consequences of the upheaval to come.
That stark finding is borne out in a new global automation readiness index and white paper commissioned by automation firm ABB. (If it seems odd that a robotics company is sounding the alarm about automation, suffice to say there's a race underway among automation suppliers to soften the industry image.)
The Automation Readiness Index ranks nations on their preparedness for the spread of intelligent automation -- a loose phrase for machine-learning and AI-abetted automation that can be deployed rapidly into existing operations.
"In assessing the existence of policy and strategy in the areas of innovation, education and the labour market, the study finds that little policy