Culture 3 min read

AI to Eliminate 130,000 U.S Federal Jobs by 2040

A new report identifies which of the federal occupations artificial intelligence will likely impact in the next decade. The effects of shift will be most felt at federal financial agencies.

This future development could fundamentally change how we view the idea of employment. ¦ Shutterstock

This future development could fundamentally change how we view the idea of employment. ¦ Shutterstock

Since AI’s good largely outbalances its bad, the global AI arms race is on.

In January, we covered how the world’s top countries have devised AI national strategies. In past years, the U.S. has lagged behind with no national vision to spur innovation and guide initiatives.

Then, last month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to boost the U.S. AI game plan.

The “American AI Initiative” is a good start for The U.S. government that won’t be spared by automation itself.

According to a new report, about 130,000 federal jobs will be at stake.

U.S. Federal Agencies and Automation: Challenges and Opportunities

Depending on who you ask, we’re still a way off until true artificial intelligence arrives. The most simple definition of true AI is a machine with human-level general intelligence.

According to some AI experts, it could become a reality as early as the 2030s. However, others push it up until 2100, or never.

Toward surpassing human intelligence, machines and software are getting increasingly smarter and at an increasingly rapid pace.

With AI at it its heart, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is rapidly taking shape and will fundamentally change the workplace. Although some occupations will see partial changes, others will disappear altogether.

Read More: 3 Jobs AI is Getting Pretty Good at Doing

Based in Washington, DC, the Partnership for Public Service (PPS) is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization founded in 2001 with the aim to improve government action and public services.

With collaboration from the IBM Center for The Business of Government, the PPS released a report reviewing the state of AI for the U.S. federal government.

Per the report — More Than Meets AI: Assessing the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Work of Government” —  while AI will help the government gain more overall efficiency, it will dramatically impact federal jobs:

“AI is sure to change the composition of the federal workforce, creating new jobs related to managing AI systems or requiring critical thinking. Jobs based mainly on tasks that can be automated would likely be phased out, and employees would have to learn new or different skills for other jobs. Jobs based mainly on tasks that can be automated will likely be phased out, and employees would have to learn new or different skills for other jobs in order to survive.”

The analysis identified that more than 80 U.S. federal occupations could become automated. In 2017, over 130,000 employees worked in these federal responsibilities. These positions included tax examiners and collectors, accountants, and food inspectors.

The Department of the Treasury, IRS, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and the Securities and Exchange Commission are among the federal agencies whose workforce face a “near-term impact” from automation.

“Ten or 20 years from now, a federal workday is likely to unfold differently than a workday today. An AI transformation is expected to start with the automation of repetitive tasks, freeing up employees’ time to focus on mission-critical work. In the long term, however, AI will change the nature of jobs and how humans work alongside machines.”

Read More: Insight: Why the U.S Needs a National AI Strategy

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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