11 October 2020

AI Regulation, Robots and Employment

'Models of Law and Regulation for AI' by Nicolas Petit and Jerome De Cooman comments 

This paper discusses models of law and regulation of Artificial Intelligence (“AI”). The discussion focuses on four models: the black letter model, the emergent model, the ethical model, and the risk regulation model. All four models currently inform, individually or jointly, integrally or partially, consciously or unconsciously, law and regulatory reform towards AI. We describe each model’s strengths and weaknesses, discuss whether technological evolution deserves to be accompanied by existing or new laws, and propose a fifth model based on externalities with a moral twist.

'The Losers of automation: How the introduction of robotics changed the European occupational class structure' by Paolo Barbieri, Giorgio Cutuli and Saverio Minardi comments 

This paper examines the occupational and social impact of labour-replacing technologies in Western European countries. Our study combines data on job tasks created with O*Net 3.0, information on regional robots exposure created with data from the International Federation of Robotics, and microdata from the EU-LFS from 1997 to 2017 that were longitudinalised by applying pseudo-panel models. 

We investigate unemployment risks associated with the introduction of labour-saving technologies as well as changes in workforce composition and possible modifications to the occupational stratification of European societies caused by the introduction of these new technologies. In addition, we examine the “shrinking-middle-class” hypothesis as we are interested in analysing the impact of robotics on social stratification in Europe. 

Our results reveal that the degree to which the process of technological innovation is embedded in institutions is highly relevant to understanding the stratification effects of robotics. This finding calls into question the deterministic – that is, the intrinsically functionalistic – perspective that underlies the economic approach of SBTC/RBTC theories. Overall, we find that a process of technical change lies at the root of different upgrading scenarios in Europe, with Northern Europe demonstrating the most positive effects of this process. Central Europe appears more stable, and technology here currently seems to be inducing only mild growth in non-manual and non-routine jobs, a reduction in unemployment risks, and an overall “upgrading” of employment- and class structure. The “losers” of the process of technological change appear to be the Southern European countries, which are currently experiencing a reduction in employment levels for low- and mid-educated male workers as well as an overall downgrading of occupational and class structures. Overall, our results do not confirm any convergent trend of technological unemployment or of “hollowing out the middle class”