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Academics can’t decide how AI will shape the economy

ALSO: The CHIPS Act is going better than expected

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Today’s Insights

  • Academics can’t decide how AI will shape the economy

  • Prompt: Convert any file in ChatGPT

  • The CHIPS Act is going better than expected

  • 5 new AI tools to boost your productivity

  • AI-Generated Images: Heart-shaped homes


Everything you need to know today

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  • Appy Ending: Anthropic AI launches an app for Claude, the company’s alternative to ChatGPT.


Why academics can’t decide how AI will shape the economy

American businesses cut nearly 65,000 positions last month, and if you go by recent headlines, you might assume AI was to blame. But the reality isn’t so dire, according to the latest economic report from career services firm Challenger, Gray, & Christmas. Just 800 workers lost their jobs to AI in April — far less than the 3,900 AI-related cuts in May 2023.

If you’re left feeling a little confused about what AI might mean for career prospects, you’re not alone: Not even economists can decide whether AI advances will ultimately help or hurt the economy. There are those who fear an all-out job apocalypse, arguing that AI will cause such profound societal changes that most positions will eventually become obsolete. 

On the other side, academics like George Mason University’s Tyler Cowen think AI might only boost the economy by about half a percentage point. They believe AI advances will soon start to level off — and that we’ll have plenty of time to adapt to whatever changes new models might bring.

The reality will probably land somewhere in the middle: Lots of jobs are going to become automated, but some workers will find new ones building the AI systems of the future. There’s even historical precedent for this. By 2020, there was little need for telephone operators and typists, but software development and analyst jobs skyrocketed instead. 

An unexpected bonus? Some analysts think AI could usher in a new golden age of entrepreneurship. Sophisticated models could take care of tasks that currently cost a lot, from accounting to coding. That could lower the barrier to entry enough to encourage more people to bring their ideas to market.


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The CHIPS Act is going better than expected

Source: Getty Images

When President Biden signed off on the CHIPS Act in 2022, most economists thought of it as a long-term investment. It could help the US decades down the line, they’d figured, but it wasn’t going to change anything overnight. Why? Because Taiwan dominates in chip manufacturing — especially when it comes to the ones that can power AI — and the infrastructure needed to produce cutting-edge chips can take years to build.

Well, some economists are starting to rethink their initial assumptions: Tech companies are building new chip manufacturing facilities inside the US at a rate 15 times higher than years prior thanks to incentives from the CHIPS Act, according to the Financial Times. And nearly all the big players are onboard, including Samsung and TSMC. For its part, Intel has chosen the US as the site to build its most advanced chip yet.

The US produces virtually none of the world’s AI-oriented chips today, but by 2030, it could make as much as 20% of the world’s supply. That’s not enough to become entirely self-sufficient, but it’s a big step in the right direction.

Why is that a big deal? The US is concerned about foreign adversaries controlling high-tech semiconductors, i.e. the fuel that powers the world’s most advanced AI systems. It wants to control every step of manufacturing so that if something goes wrong — say China decides to invade Taiwan — it won’t be left in the lurch.

For now at least, it looks like that kind of security is in high demand. Apple, Nvidia, and other tech giants have already agreed to team up with TSMC as it expands production at a new chip plant in Arizona...and the US still has about half of its chip funding left to spend.


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Heart-shaped homes

Source: 22luvr on Midjourney

Prompt: A Hiroshi Nagai painting of a red heart shaped home overlooking a skyline


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