New story in Business from Time: AI Is About to Spark a Radical Shift in White Collar Work. But There’s Still ‘Plenty of Work for People to Do’

The story of automation in America has long been told in shuttered factories and declining Midwestern cities. But the latest wave of advancements in artificial intelligence may be bring the prospect of machine replacement beyond blue collar work. Developers are creating algorithms that promise to take over vast amounts of work in white collar fields like law and medicine, potentially upending traditionally high-status fields. For people in those once-secure positions, the questions are whose jobs may be changed, how soon, and what new opportunities may arise to take their place.

Knowledge work that involves repetitive tasks or large amounts of data, such as lawyers’ often arduous document discovery process, is particularly ripe for disruption from AI, experts say. Tasks that require human-to-human interaction or some element of creativity are likely to be safer. “Pattern recognition in general is something that these technologies seem good at,” says Mark Muro, one of the authors of a recent Brookings Institution report that suggests high-paid, educated workers will be highly exposed to new AI technology. “That is a contribution to a lot of white collar activities.”

MIT economics professor David Autor says middle management positions are particularly susceptible to this new wave of automation, particularly in fields like finance and inventory management, where humans are in charge of translating data into concrete business decisions. But he also argues that displacement from machine learning is likely to create new opportunities.

“Historically, tons of new work comes into existence as a result of automation,” Autor says. “The whole industrial revolution came about as a result of the automation of artisanal tasks, but it would have been impossible for anyone at the dawn of that period to foresee where that would go.”

That optimism may come as cold comfort for the artisans of 2020: the millions of paralegals, human resource managers, IT professionals and other knowledge industry workers whose positions are prime targets for a new wave of automation. McKinsey predicts across-the-board cuts in such fields over the next decade. Some fields, like office financial support personnel, are likely to lose more than one in four positions.

Some economists predict even more dramatic changes in the coming years, including a radical shift in top-tier white collar work. Richard Baldwin of the Graduate Institute in Geneva argues that AI, coupled with outsourcing enabled by new advances in telecommunications, will sharply reduce white collar employment. He believes those twin drivers could displace professionals in elite sectors from media and finance to architecture and law, at least until people find new ways to put themselves to work.

“What we have is displacement being driven at the pace of digital technology, but job creation being driven at the pace of human ingenuity,” Baldwin says. “What I’m worried about is that job displacement driven by digital will outstrip job creation driven by ingenuity.”

Recent advancements illustrate the extent of possible change in some of society’s most illustrious professions. This month, a team of researchers announced they had created an AI algorithm that outperformed radiologists in detecting breast cancer in mammograms. Trained on tens of thousands of mammogram images, the algorithm measurably reduced both false positives and false negatives compared to human doctors. Of course, radiology involves a lot more than classifying images. With demand for radiologists surging, it’s not likely the field will die off any time soon. “AI will not replace radiologists,” says Kevin Lyman, CEO of AI radiology startup Enlitic. “But radiologists using AI will replace those who do not.”

Of course, there are winners in any mass economic reorientation. The explosion in AI development has already created thousands of high-paying jobs for those with the skill sets to design, test, and sell such systems. Hiring growth for “AI Specialists” grew by 74% annually over the past four years, according to LinkedIn data. Carnegie Mellon University, a premier school for computer science, reports a recent explosion of interest in hiring their graduates, with three times as many tech companies recruiting in 2019 compared to just three years earlier. Over the same period, the number of data analytics, information technology, and software engineering jobs posted to CMU’s recruitment portal also tripled.

Even within the tech campuses of Silicon Valley, machine learning automation may be making inroads. San Francisco-based startup Kite has developed a plugin that uses AI to offer auto-complete suggestions for coders. CEO and Founder Adam Smith predicts the technology will eventually do much more. “Instead of Kite predicting the line of code you’re currently typing, the human will just tell us what they want the piece of code to do and we’ll synthesize that code for them,” says Smith. But while coders may be working faster, he maintains that the obsolescence of software engineers is a long way off.

Even as some high-status professions face possible AI disruption, economists are generally optimistic about the future of employment. Few are predicting anything like the end of work as we know it in coming decades. The challenge, says Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor of management science and information technology at MIT, is finding ways to transition people away from work where machines are outpacing humans and into jobs where they will be most needed.

“In healthcare, in childcare, cleaning the environment, in creative work, science, entrepreneurship, the arts — these are all areas where machines can’t hold a candle to humans,” he says. “We’ve got plenty of work for people to do.”

New story in Business from Time: ‘A Trust Paradox.’ New Report Finds Distrust in Capitalism, Government and Global Institutions — Despite a Strong Economy

A new report found widespread distrust in societal institutions — defined as government, business, NGOs and the media — despite a strong global economy, a phenomenon it deemed a “trust paradox.” The report concluded that people’s fears about the future are driving this trend, and proposed institutions prioritize balancing competence with ethical behavior to rebuild public trust.

The “Trust Barometer 2020” report was conducted by the communications firm Edelman, which has been running the survey for the past 20 years. The Barometer, which aims to survey trust and credibility around the world, is usually released at the start the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which began on Tuesday. The 2020 barometer surveyed over 34,000 people in 28 countries.

Despite the strong global economy, the report found that 56% of respondents believe capitalism as it exists today does more harm than good in the world; fewer than one in three people in developed markets said they believe they and their families will be better off in five years. The report found that, globally, 83% of employees are worried about losing their jobs to reasons including automation, a looming recession, lack of training, cheaper foreign competition, immigration and the gig economy.

“We are living in a trust paradox,” said Richard Edelman, Edelman CEO, in a statement. “Since we began measuring trust 20 years ago, economic growth has fostered rising trust. This continues in Asia and the Middle East but not in developed markets, where national income inequality is now the more important factor. Fears are stifling hope, and long-held assumptions about hard work leading to upward mobility are now invalid.”

The Barometer found that none of the four institutions it asked about — government, business, NGOs and the media — are trusted. Wealthier, more educated individuals trusted institutions more than the rest of the population, a gap it describes as the “mass-class” trust divide. The report found that this divide reached record levels in a record number of countries.

The survey also found that trust in technology companies has substantially declined, with a global four point decline in trust in the technology sector from 2019 to 2020 and substantial declines of 10 points in France, eight points in Canada, Italy, Russia and Singapore, and seven points in the U.S. Sixty one percent of people responded that they felt the pace of change in technology is too fast, and 66% responded that they “worry technology will make it impossible to know if what people are seeing or hearing is real.”

In a similar vein, respondents worried about receiving accurate information. Fifty seven percent agreed that the media they consume is “contaminated with untrustworthy information” and 76% of people said they worry about “fake news being used as a weapon” — a six-point increase from 2018.

There’s also a lack of faith that the government can address these problems. Sixty six percent of respondents said they do not have confidence that “our current leaders will be able to successfully address our country’s challenges.”

Just 46% people said they trust religious leaders, 42% said they trust government leaders and 36% said they trust the very wealthy. On a more positive note, 80% of respondents said they trust scientists, 69% said they trust “people in my local community” and 65% said they trust “citizens of my country.”

Competence versus ethical behavior

“People’s expectations of institutions have led us to evolve our model for measuring trust,” said Edelman. “Trust today is granted on two distinct attributes: competence (delivering on promises) and ethical behavior (doing the right thing and working to improve society). It is no longer only a matter of what you do—it’s also how you do it.”

Significantly, the Barometer found that no institutions were viewed as both competent and ethical. Business was seen as competent and NGOs were seen as ethical, while the government and the media were seen as neither.

Edelman Intelligence Edelman Trust Barometer 2020

The report found that people are three times as likely to trust a company if they think it acts ethically, rather than just competently. It also found that employees expect their employers to act ethically, with 92% of employees said it is important for their their employer’s CEO to “speak out” on issues like income inequality, diversity, ethical use of tech, climate change and immigration.

“After tracking 40 global companies over the past year through our Edelman Trust Management framework we’ve learned that ethical drivers such as integrity, dependability and purpose drive close to 76 percent of the trust capital of business, while competence accounts for only 24 percent,” said Antoine Harary, president of Edelman Intelligence. “Trust is undeniably linked to doing what is right. The battle for trust will be fought on the field of ethical behavior.”

New story in Business from Time: Billionaires Have More Wealth Than 60% of the World’s Population, Report Finds

A new report found that the world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than 4.6 billion people, underscoring the degree of global inequality.

The Oxfam International study, released Monday and dubbed “Time to Care,” shows that the number of billionaires has doubled in the past decade. The authors add that these fortunes have largely been amassed while everyday people, especially poor women, continue to struggle.

“The gap between rich and poor can’t be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies, and too few governments are committed to these,” Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar said in a press statement. “Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist.”

The report finds that women are most impacted by the growing equality gap — the 22 richest men in the world have more money than all the women in Africa, for example. Also, 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work is done by women and girls every day, which contributes $10.8 trillion dollars a year to the global economy, the report found. Women also do more than three-quarters of all unpaid care work and make up two-thirds of the paid ‘care workforce,” Oxfam said.

Governments are not taxing the wealthiest people or corporations enough, the report argues. Oxfam found that if the world’s richest one percent had to pay an extra 0.5 in taxes over the next 10 years, that would be equal to the investment that is needed to add over 100 million jobs in workforces like health, education and childcare.

“Governments must prioritize care as being as important as all other sectors in order to build more human economies that work for everyone, not just a fortunate few,” Behar said.

New story in Business from Time: Former White House Chief Economic Advisor to Trump Says Tariffs ‘Hurt the U.S.’

Former White House Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn said Sunday that President Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum “hurt the U.S.” and did not help the administration in trade negotiations, either.

“I don’t think the tariffs helped us get to any different outcome. I think it has hurt the U.S. It’s totally hurt the United States,” Cohn said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Cohen stated in response to CBS host Margaret Brennan’s that he didn’t believe the tariffs changed the U.S.’ progress on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement or trade negotiations with China.

Cohn also acknowledged his differing stance on trade negotiations to Trump, saying that they “agreed fundamentally on what the issue was” but not how to solve it. Still, he denied that their disagreement on tariffs and trade were the only reason he left the administration in March of 2018. “I left the administration for a variety of different reasons,” Cohn said.

“The US economy is very strong, very solid. Employment growth is great but we’re missing a big component,” Cohn said. “We’re missing the capital expenditures from companies in the United States.”

New story in Business from Time: U.S. Allows Chevron to Keep Drilling in Venezuela for 3 Months

(WASHINGTON) — The Trump administration has granted Chevron a special license to keep drilling oil in Venezuela despite a ban on American companies doing business with President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist government.

The Treasury Department late Friday renewed until April 22 the license for Chevron and four other U.S. service suppliers that are among the last American companies operating in the oil-rich South American nation. It’s the fourth time the U.S. has exempted the companies from the Venezuela ban.

Chevron, a San Ramon, California-based company, has operated in Venezuela for almost a century. Its four joint ventures with Venezuela’s state-run oil monopoly PDVSA produce about 200,000 barrels a day. That’s about a quarter of Venezuela’s total production, according to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Critics among Venezuela’s opposition insist that Chevron’s continued presence in the country undercuts the Trump administration’s goal of ousting Maduro by providing him a valuable lifeline of badly-needed export dollars.

New story in Business from Time: NBC’s Peacock Streaming Service to Take a Different Approach From Its Rivals: Free Content

(Bloomberg) — Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal said its upcoming streaming service will be free to everyone — with extra programming for its pay-TV subscribers — in a bet that it can generate substantial revenue from advertising while supporting the cable business.

Along with AT&T Inc.’s HBO Max, NBC’s new service, Peacock, is poised to be a relatively late entrant in the burgeoning market for streaming-video services. But Peacock also marks a very different approach from rivals. Unlike paid-subscription platforms such as Netflix Inc., Walt Disney Co.’s Disney+ and Apple Inc.’s Apple TV+, Peacock will largely rely on advertising. The company expects to reach 30 million to 35 million active accounts by 2024.

Comcast executives have said they plan to spend $2 billion over the next two years on the streaming service and expect it to break even by its fifth year. The approach mimics the deep spending of rivals such as Disney and AT&T, which are pouring billions into their platforms as well — and don’t expect to be profitable until later in the decade.

The Peacock service, named for the longstanding NBC logo, will launch April 15 to Comcast customers and then roll out nationwide July 15. That’s just before the start of the Summer Olympics, which NBCUniversal’s networks will air. The premium version of Peacock, which ordinarily will cost $4.99 a month, will be available at no cost initially to subscribers of Comcast and Cox Communications Inc.

Those two cable companies have over 24 million subscribers. Their subscribers will have access to twice as many hours of content as those using the free version. That will include sports offerings like soccer’s English Premier League and early access to late-night talk shows.

Ad Options

Anyone can get the free version of Peacock, but customers will have to pay $4.99 for the premium version with advertising. They can also pay $9.99 for an advertising-free version.

By making a version of the product free, NBC is hoping that Peacock will have a leg up on its streaming competitors and reach a large subscriber base quickly. It also reflects the fact that Peacock is owned by Comcast, the largest U.S. cable-TV provider, which can use a free streaming service to make its other offerings more attractive.

State Farm Life Insurance Co., Target Corp. and Unilever will be the first set of advertisers on Peacock.

The service will have programming from the Summer Olympics, which begin in late July in Tokyo, including live coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies and daily Olympic shows.

Peacock will have more than 600 movies and 400 series, including reruns of NBC shows such as “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” as well as a slate of original programs. It will also stream the “Law & Order” and “Chicago” shows created by Dick Wolf and have exclusive streaming rights for Universal films, including “Fast & Furious 9” and “Jurassic World 3.”

The arrival of Peacock comes during a period of transition for NBCUniversal. Steve Burke stepped down as the chief executive officer on Jan. 1, handing the reins to lieutenant Jeff Shell. Burke, who is now chairman of NBCUniversal, will retire in August.

New story in Business from Time: Women Are Now the Majority of the U.S. Workforce — But Working Women Still Face Serious Challenges

Going into 2020, the U.S. economy generally seems strong — especially for women, who hold the majority of jobs for the first time in almost a decade. Women held 50.04% of American jobs as of December, excluding farm workers and the self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up from 49.7% just one year ago.

What’s driving the surge in female employment? The two industries that experienced the biggest overall gains, health care and retail, both employ many women and are fueled in part by demand from economically-empowered female consumers, says Amanda Weinstein, assistant professor of economics at the University of Akron.

Meanwhile, as women have gained increased control of spending in American households and entered the workforce over the last century, they’ve helped fuel the rise of the service sector, which includes healthcare, education and retail, all industries with lots of female employment. In turn, services such as daycare, home health care, and food preparation have made it easier for women to join the workforce.

But economists say that this isn’t the entire story, and forces in the workplace and society more broadly are still holding many women (and men) back. Here are three things to know about women in the workforce:

Employed, but with low pay

Many women are working in the service sector, which includes plenty of high-paying professions, like physicians. But Aparna Mathur, the director of the American Enterprise Institute-Brookings Paid Family Leave Project, says that many of this sector’s low-paying jobs, such as home health aides, are predominantly held by women.

Indeed, Mathur says that simply holding a job doesn’t necessarily ensure financial security. While health care costs have risen and there is high demand for workers to care for the aging population, wages for low-paid healthcare workers haven’t risen significantly. That’s due in part to the supply of immigrant workers and a high turnover rate. “These are not long-term careers for a lot of people, so it’s hard to imagine that this would suddenly lead to higher wages for workers in these industries,” Mathur says.

Some economists argue that workers who oversee or care for others, such as teachers and home health aides, are underpaid relative to their societal importance because what they do is viewed as “care work.”

“Historically, we have undervalued care work because it has been seen as very feminine. And we tend to undervalue feminine jobs that involve care,” Weinstein says.

The childcare conundrum

The high number of women in the workforce conceals the facts that the labor force participation rate for many groups of women is still lower than that of men. (The civilian workforce participation rate for prime age workers (ages 25 to 54) was 76.8% for women in Dec. 2019 compared to 89.2% for men.) Meanwhile, women are much more likely to work part time.

Mathur says there’s evidence that more women have been forced to choose more flexible work, which may be part time and closer to home, because they need or are expected to provide care for their families. In part, this may be due to the high cost of childcare. More than 70% of families spend more than 10% of their incomes on care, according to analysis by Care.com.

“We’ve had a decade where women were underemployed relative to men,” says Mathur.

Policies that help families ensure that care is available at home, such as a federal paid leave program, could free up more women to join the workforce, Mathur says.

Weinstein says that reevaluating conventions in the workplace and at American schools could also help women. For instance, the 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. school day and lengthy summer vacations from school may not make sense with two parents working full time.

“We have a society that, in many ways, has not pivoted to support the workforce that we currently have. And we have dual earners,” says Weinstein.

Some men are struggling, too

The increasing proportion of female workers leaves a big unanswered question: what’s happening to the men?

Male participation in the workforce has been generally declining for decades. Although there was an increase in 2019, only 89.2% of men ages 25 to 54 were in the workforce last December, compared to 97.1% in Dec. 1960.

Claudia Goldin, a professor of economics at Harvard University, says that women are reaping the benefits of being more educated than men. However, workforce participation has declined even for men with college degrees. Part of the problem, she says, is that the changing economy is leaving some men behind.

“Some men are not as employable in the old sectors, and they’re not doing a very good job of moving into the new sectors. This is certainly true about the college-educated population,” says Goldin.

In Weinstein’s view, the same stigma that has devalued care work has also discouraged men from pursuing traditionally female professions, even if there are more opportunities there.

“We are starting to see men join some of those jobs, but not at the rate we’re seeing women join male-dominated sectors. Not nearly the rate,” says Weinstein.

Mathur says that men may be struggling to remain in the workforce for many other reasons — including the opiate epidemic and criminal records — and that more research is necessary to determine what’s happening.

“We need to understand better what is driving the decline,” says Mathur. “We look at issues like the opioid crisis, the incarceration rate, is it disability? I think with men, some of these issues will be handled with a tighter labor market. So we are already seeing employers reaching out to demographics they typically haven’t wanted to employ, [such as] people who have a criminal record.”