Rep. Ro Khanna: Jobs Will Be the Focus of White House A.I. Summit

May 9, 2018

By Alisha Haridisani

Dozens of Silicon Valley executives are scheduled to descend on the White House for a summit meeting Thursday to discuss how artificial intelligence can be used to strengthen the economy.

“I think the big question is ‘what are the new jobs going to look like?’” said Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat from California’s tech-heavy 17th district.

The summit, organized by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, will provide a forum for tech leaders and lawmakers to discuss how manufacturing, transportation, and healthcare can integrate A.I. without losing too many jobs and, hopefully, creating new ones.

A.I. is expected to automate at least 13 million jobs in the United States, according to a paper published by the international Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) earlier this year. The paper also predicted that the effect on America's workforce may be greater than the disruption caused by automation of the auto industry in the 1950s, which resulted in large job losses in some local economies.

“You’re not just going to solve that issue by tax cuts or corporate giveaways,” said Khanna. “You really need to prepare a workforce for the jobs of the future."

Michael Kratsios, the White House's deputy chief technology officer, recently told The Washington Post the potential applications for A.I., robots and machine learning touched nearly every industry.

“Whether you’re a farmer in Iowa, an energy producer in Texas, a drug manufacturer in Boston, you are going to be using these techniques to drive your business going forward,” Kratsios was quoted by The Post.

Khanna said the potential far-reaching impact of new technology required the administration to come up with a detailed plan for preparing American workers. "I thought the president, who made his reputation on ‘The Apprentice,’ would announce a lot of apprenticeship and tech programs," he said.

Alphabet, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, and IBM are reportedly among the companies that will attend the meeting at the White House with academics and lawmakers.

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