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Updated Jul 11, 2023, 1:04pm EDT
politicstechNorth America

Biden’s economic adviser says people only care if AI displaces white-collar workers

Semafor editor-at-large Steven Clemons speaks to White House Council of Economic Advisors Chair Jared Bernstein
Kristoffer Tripplaar
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There’s a frustrating disconnect in the perception of how artificial intelligence will impact trade workers versus those in white-collar industries, President Joe Biden’s top economic advisor said at a Semafor event Tuesday.

“One thing that gets under my skin a little bit is when it comes to sort of blue-collar displacement, a lot of people seem to think ‘well, you know, that’s just life,’” Jared Bernstein, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, said during Semafor’s The World at Work Summit. But “when it comes to white-collar displacement we’re like ‘wait, hold on a second.’”

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Bernstein, who was narrowly confirmed to his post by the Senate in June, said “nobody knows” how AI will affect productivity, “even the most renowned experts.”

He likened AI to past technological advances, and said economists will be watching how it either substitutes or complements existing jobs.

“We do not have I think, clearer insights into the extent to which AI will be displacing or augmenting,” he said. “I can see areas of both.”

Speaking about the White House’s renewable energy policies, Bernstein said officials have had good discussions with Republicans. “In my conversations with folks on the other side of the aisle, there are a lot of head nods, a lot more understanding than you get if you listen to the noise,” he said.

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