Sadiq Khan says another referendum is needed because young people’s ‘future is on the line’
Sadiq Khan says another referendum is needed because young people’s ‘future is on the line’
President Donald Trump confirmed Saturday that the U.S. would be abandoning a Cold War-era arms treaty, arguing that Russia has defied the terms of the decades-old agreement.
“They have been violating it for many years,” Trump said after a rally in Elko, Nevada, according to a White House readout, referring to the Kremlin’s cooperation with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
“We’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to,” Trump said.
Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev brokered the pact in 1987 to halt the proliferation of nuclear and conventional missiles.
“We’ll have to develop those weapons,” Trump said, adding: “We’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out.”
White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, who departed this weekend for a trip to Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, was scheduled to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Saturday.
Even the experts disagree exactly how much tech like AI will change our workforce.
Tech CEOs and politicians alike have issued grave warnings about the capability of automation, including AI, to replace large swaths of our current workforce. But the people who actually study this for a living — economists — have very different ideas about just how large the scale of that automation will be.
For example, researchers at Citibank and the University of Oxford estimated that 57 percent of jobs in OECD countries — an international group of 36 nations including the U.S. — were at high risk of automation within the next few decades. In another well-cited study, researchers at the OECD calculated only 14 percent of jobs to be at high risk of automation within the same timeline. That’s a big range when you consider this means a difference of hundreds of millions of potential lost jobs in the next few decades.
Of course, technology also has the capability to create new jobs — or just change the nature of the work people are doing — rather than eliminate jobs altogether. But sizing the scope of sheer job loss is an important metric, because for every job lost, a member of the workforce will have to find a new one, oftentimes in an entirely different profession.
Even within the scope of the U.S., the estimates for how many jobs could be lost in a single year vary widely. Earlier this year, MIT Technology Review analyzed and plotted dozens of across-the-board predictions from researchers at places like McKinsey Global Institute, Gartner and the International Federation of Robotics. Here, we’ve charted some of the data they compiled, with some of our own analysis from additional reports:
So why do these predictions cover so much range? Recode asked leading academics and economists in the field and found some of the challenges in sizing how automation and similar technology will change the workforce:
Even as new groundbreaking tech becomes available, there’s no guarantee that it will be implemented right away. For example, while autonomous-vehicle technology could one day eliminate or change the jobs of the estimated five million workers in the U.S. who drive professionally, there’s a long road ahead to getting legal clearance to do that.
“The fact that a job can be automated doesn’t mean it will be,” Glenda Quintini, a senior economist at the OECD, told Recode. “There’s a question of implementing, the cost of labor versus technology, and social desirability.”
Take the job of a waiter. A robot may be able to take over some aspects of that job, like taking orders, serving the food or handling payments. But other parts, like dealing with an angry customer, maybe less so. Some studies, such as the OECD report, assess the likelihood of each task within an occupation, while the Oxford studies make an overall assessment of each job.
There’s a debate among academics about which methodology makes more sense. The authors of the OECD report say that the granularity in their approach is more accurate, while the Oxford report authors argue that for most occupations, the detailed tasks don’t matter: As long as technology like AI can do the critical portion of the work, it ultimately has a binary “yes” or “no” capability to be automated.
To model the future, researchers have to start with data from the present — which is not always perfect. Economists do their best to take inventory of all the jobs out there and what tasks they involve, but this list admittedly isn’t exhaustive.
“There’s no assurance in the end that that we’ve captured every aspect of those jobs, so inevitably we might be overlooking some things,” said Carl Benedikt Frey, an economist at the University of Oxford.
It helps to know just how these experts make the predictions to fully understand the room for human error. In the case of the Oxford study, researchers gathered a list of hundreds of occupations and asked a panel of machine learning experts to make their best judgment as to whether or not some of those jobs were likely to be computerized. The researchers weighed in on only 70 out of the about 702 total jobs that they were most confident they could assess.
For the rest of the occupations, the researchers used an algorithm that attributed a numerical value to how much each job included tasks that are technology bottlenecks — things like “the ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas” or “persuading others to change their minds or behavior.” But ultimately, even that algorithmic modeling isn’t perfect, because not everybody agrees on just how socially complex any given job is. So while quantitative models can help reduce bias, they don’t eliminate it completely, and that can trickle down into differences in the final results.
For all these reasons, some academics prefer not to forecast an exact number of jobs lost in a specific timeframe, but instead focus on the relative percentage of jobs in an economy at risk.
“All of these studies that have tried to put a number on how many jobs are going to be lost in a decade or two decades or five years — they’re trying to do something that is just impossible,” Frey said.
Economist John Maynard Keynes famously said that by 2030, due to rapid advancements in technology, we’d see widespread “technological unemployment” and be working an average of only 15 hours a week. It was a positive vision for a world where mankind would finally have “freedom from pressing economic cares” and live a life of leisure. Those estimates seem widely overblown now. While Keynes was right that technology has helped increase productivity in entirely new industries, the average workweek in the U.S. hasn’t declined since the 1970s.
Thanks in large part to persistent wage stagnation and rising income inequality in the last few decades, most people still have to work just as many hours as they did before in order to make ends meet.
Keynes’s comments remind us that there’s a bad track record of punditry in this field, and that even the greats can be wrong when it comes to predicting just how much, or how fast, technology will impact the workforce.
The rule of law requires friends who are willing to ignore the partisan din that afflicts our institutions. In that spirit, 20 years ago, we participated in a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court of the United States to reject a claim of privilege by President Bill Clinton, who was seeking to avoid civil litigation alleging sexual misconduct while he was governor of Arkansas. The Supreme Court did reject Clinton’s claim of immunity, vindicating the principle that no person is above the law.
Now, President Donald Trump is appealing from an order denying his motion to dismiss a civil case brought against him. The plaintiff, Sumner Zervos, alleges that, while a private citizen, Trump defamed her when he called her a liar for accusing him of sexual misconduct. The president asserts that he has a constitutional privilege that protects him against civil litigation in state court, whether or not the claims relate to his official conduct.
There is a depressing similarity in the alleged misconduct underlying the Clinton and Trump cases, but they differ in two ways: (1) the courts in which they were filed (one in federal court, the other in state court); and (2) the parties of the presidents seeking immunity (one a Democrat, the other a Republican). Neither difference should lead to a different result. The principle for which Clinton v. Jones stands is bipartisan and deserves disinterested champions. For those reasons, we filed a friend-of-the-court brief opposing Trump’s legal arguments, just as we opposed Clinton’s position in the Supreme Court of the United States two decades ago.
The central lesson of Clinton v. Jones is that the privilege invoked in that case attaches to the office of president, not the person who holds it. It does so for the purpose of ensuring faithful and robust performance of the duties of office unimpeded by the concern that official action or inaction might be the source of civil litigation. When a civil action is brought against a president because of alleged conduct occurring before that individual assumed office, the reason for the privilege is not present, the principle is fully operative, and there can be no categorical immunity. The same is true in the Trump litigation.
The Clinton court did not, it is true, decide whether state court litigation should be treated differently for this purpose than federal court litigation. Yet, any such differences could reflect only a case-specific analysis of circumstances that might adversely affect the performance of official duties. Another principle informing the Constitution is that state courts can faithfully implement federal law. Article VI proclaims the supremacy of federal law, not of federal officers. Trump should not fear biased treatment from the courts of his home state, and because they follow more liberal rules for appeals than apply in federal litigation, New York courts may be better equipped to ensure that the trial court manages the litigation so as not to interfere with the president’s performance of his official duties.
Although all three of us are law professors of a certain age, we are affiliated with different institutions, specialize in different areas of the law, and have different backgrounds and political and jurisprudential commitments. For one of us, involvement in the Clinton brief was a product of Watergate, reflecting the powerful effect that the high court’s decision in United States v. Nixon (the Nixon tapes case) had on him as a young lawyer and as a citizen. For another, participation in that brief flowed from deep commitment to political equality and popular sovereignty. All of us believed that the principle affirmed in Nixon required a friend in court even if (or perhaps because) some people who were involved on both sides of the Clinton litigation had partisan political motives. The same is true of our involvement in Zervos v. Trump.
Despite progress in reducing extreme poverty, the number of poor worldwide is still “unacceptably high,” according to a World Bank report, which showed that billions of people still struggle to meet basic needs.
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