A networks perspective on automation

28 November 2017
Maria del Rio Chanona

Current technological progress has raised concerns about automation of tasks performed by workers resulting in job losses. Previous studies have used machine learning techniques to compute the automation probability of occupations and thus, studied the impact of automation on employment. However, such studies do not consider second-order effects, for example, an occupation with low automation probability can have a  surplus of labor supply due to similar occupations being automated. In this work, we study such second-order effects of automation using a network approach.  In our network – the Job Space – occupations are nodes and edges link occupations which share a significant amount of work activities. By mapping employment, automation probabilities into the network, and considering the movement of workers, we show that an occupation’s position in the network may be crucial to determining its employment future.