THE EMPLOYMENT EFFECTS OF AUTOMATION ADOPTION: PREPARING FOR A FUTURE OF TECHNOLOGICAL UNEMPLOYMENT

Open Access
Author:
Stevens, Cameron Lewis
Area of Honors:
Economics
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Russell Paul Chuderewicz, Thesis Supervisor
  • Russell Chuderewicz, Honors Advisor
  • Brian Spangler Davis, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • Automation
  • Robotics
  • Employment
  • Economics
  • Transportation
  • Manufacturing
  • Technology
  • Futurology
  • Singularity
Abstract:
This paper contributes to the discussion surrounding the increasing relevance of automation in developed economies and the potential for new technologies to replace human workers, leading to technological unemployment. The intent of this paper is twofold: First, I will defend the thesis that automation is responsible for a significant number of job losses in the manufacturing industry and will contribute to job losses of similar magnitude in the transportation and warehousing industry. Second: I will provide strategies for individuals, businesses, and policy-makers to best-respond to the dynamics of increasingly capable automation technology. To do this, after discussing a general model for thinking about AI development in chapter one and reviewing a previously conducted study in chapter two, I examine two use-cases of automation, one in the relatively more automated industry of manufacturing and one in an industry that will potentially experience greater levels of automation in the coming decades, the transportation and warehousing industry. From these two case studies, I extract observations about the impact of automation on employment, extrapolate predictions for the potential path of future job losses, and then offer strategies for individuals, businesses, and policy-makers to best respond to future changes. My findings support the theory that automation has and will continue to contribute to the divergence between output and human employment.