Posts Under: Data-Driven Innovation

Larry Summers Trashes a Robot Tax and Calls for Active Government Role to Deal with Structural Unemployment

Former Harvard University President and U.S. Treasury Secretary recently demolished the idea of a robot tax and also issued a ringing endorsement of an activist government role to manage the impact of artificial intelligence on the labor market and on society. 

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America Needs to Embrace Automation

On Wednesday, the New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo released an article titled, “How to Make America’s Robots Great Again” which discusses how to revitalize America’s manufacturing sector through the increased use of robots.   It is true that robots have replaced workers in many manufacturing jobs, but  embracing automation has the potential to be beneficial to workers and the economy.  While automation has caused some displacement, many manufacturers are still hiring.  However, these jobs require new and different skills, and many workers are not currently trained to interact with machines in the way that augments their skills and maximizes automation’s potential.  According to a Deloitte study, roughly 2 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled because of this skills gap.  One of the reasons for this, according to companies, is that education and training systems have not kept up with the evolving needs of indu ...

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McKinsey Global Institute Releases Report on Automation and Work

Yesterday, the McKinsey Global Institute released a new report called, “Harnessing Automation for a Future that Works.” This report comes after SIIA released its own report titled, “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work” which touches on many of the same issues.  Similar to the SIIA report, it found that the adoption of automation carries significant benefits that outweigh the costs. In 2013, two Oxford economists estimated that occupations accounting for 47% of all U.S. employment were at risk of automation.  The McKinsey report states that more accurate assessment of the impact of automation on work is by looking at the impact by activity rather than the entire occupation.  By its assessment, only less than 5% of occupations can be fully automated with today’s technology.  Though, looking at automation via activity instead of by occupation, roughly half of all activities worldwide could be automated, totaling roughly $16 t ...

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"Hidden Figures:" A Great Story on Jobs as well as Civil Rights

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a screening of 21st Century Fox’s “Hidden Figures.”  This is a great movie about the critical contributions made by three African-American women – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson -  to put John Glenn into space in the early 1960s.  The movie depicts the struggles these women faced to be treated equally as the consummate professionals they were at a time when the state of Virginia still enforced segregation laws.  It is a wonderful and uplifting story about a mostly unexplored but important dimension of American history.  Go see it! There is an interesting sub-plot to the movie, which has to do with the usually somewhat dry – at least on the big screen -  topic of automation and jobs.  Johnson, Vaughn and Jackson were hired by NASA to be human “computers.”  Part of Johnson’s job was to calculate John Glenn’s exact landing zone in ...

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Automation Often Creates Jobs – Just Ask Bank Tellers

The labor economist David Autor opens a recent TED talk with a startling fact: in the 45 years since the introduction of the Automatic Teller Machine, bank teller jobs have roughly doubled, from a quarter of a million to half a million. Since 2000, financial institutions have created 100,000 new bank teller jobs.  

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SIIA Releases Brief on Algorithmic Fairness

Recent technological developments have led to the rise of “big data” analytics which include machine learning and artificial intelligence.  These new technologies will without question provide ample opportunity for growth for consumers, businesses, and the global economy as a whole.  As this technological evolution continues to take place, it does not come without some risk.   Over the last few years, algorithmic fairness, has become an issue of serious debate.  Most recently, Cathy O’Neil released a book titled, “Weapons of Math Destruction,” and Frank Pasquale published “The Black Box Society,” in which they look at issues of discrimination and the role that algorithms play in exacerbating discrimination.  SIIA responded to these works in a blog by saying that tech leaders must quickly act to ensure algorithmic fairness. To go even further, on Friday, November 04, 2016, SIIA released an issue brief on the topic ...

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What It Takes to Go Into the Clouds

Yesterday on October 10, 2016 in Berlin, the Aspen Institute/Germany launched “Into the Clouds: European SMEs and the Digital Age.”  SIIA and Thomson Reuters supported the report, which was written by the Atlantic Council’s Tyson Barker.  In connection with the launch, Aspen hosted a lively lunch discussion bringing together academics, politicians, and industry representatives. The report finds lower than optimal cloud adoption rates in a number of European countries, most notably in Germany.  It recommends six policies in order to increase cloud adoption, especially by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

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Assessing the Value of Data Analytics in Criminal Justice and Beyond

This week, SIIA published an issue brief assessing the use of data analytics in the criminal justice system.  Not surprisingly, data analytics has helped to reduce crime and improve the criminal justice system, particularly through its application in predictive policing and criminal risk assessment.  The report also explores critical questions and concerns raised about the effectiveness and unintended outcomes of the various tools in use today. This report is timely, as it coincides with a critical decision handed down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court about the use of evidence-based risk assessment tools at sentencing.  The Court supported the use of predictive tools, such as the COMPAS tool at the center of the trial, but it ruled that “risk scores may not be considered as the determinative factor in deciding whether the offender can be supervised safely and effectively in the community.” [emphasis added] Essentially, the court’s decision confirme ...

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Can 18F Learn From the Failures of GDS?

After a failed attempt to improve their national healthcare website in 2010, the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) was formed in 2011 as an agency under the Cabinet Office responsible for the government’s single website, building new digital services, and tracking how people use government services in an effort to improve them. In five years, the agency expanded exponentially and now employs over 700 workers.


At the same time, 18F is facing many similar questions. At a recent House hearing, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlighted a series of concerns that range from a lack of outcome-oriented goals and performance measures to the cost-recovery capability of 18F’s programs.

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