Press "Enter" to skip to content

High-End Finance Jobs Will Be Displaced By AI, Too

Artificial intelligence is not just coming for the jobs of barbers and baristas. It is coming for high-paid professions, too. Even financial professionals could see increasing pressure from technology, too.

According to a recent Brookings Institution report, white-collar jobs and occupations requiring higher education, as well as production workers, will see their jobs eaten by AI.  The report uses a new analysis of patent data by Stanford University graduate student Michael Webb.

“Webb’s modeling suggests that just as the impacts of robotics and software tend to be sizable and negative on exposed middle- and low-skill occupations, so AI’s inroads are projected to negatively impact higher-skill occupations,” wrote Mark Muro, Jacob Whiton and Robert Maxim, who suggest their analysis demonstrates both positive and negative impacts on the displacement of human labor by machine.

The report, covered by, shows that workers with graduate and professional degrees face four times the amount of risk as workers with just a high school degree. Workers with graduate or professional degrees will be almost four times as exposed to AI as workers with just a high school degree, the report showed.

AI will affect men, prime-age and white and Asian-American workers. Industries like business, finance, and technology will be more exposed, as well as natural resource and production industries. Drones and precision agriculture could upend farming jobs, which, along with fishing and forestry, were most exposed to changing job conditions brought about by artificial intelligence.

Machine learning algorithms, often referred to as AI, can learn to complete tasks by identifying statistical patterns in data. Those geographical areas most dependent on tech could face considerable disruption from AI, states the report. Those metro areas most exposed to AI include San Jose, California, Salt Lake City, and Ogden, Utah. Moreover, Detroit and other manufacturing centers, include Greenville, SC, Louisville, Ky. seem at risk, along with Bakersfield, California, an agriculture and logistics hub.

Despite that high-end white-collar jobs in finance, which is the world’s largest industry, face exposure to AI, CEOs do not. “[T]he most elite workers — such as CEOs — appear to be somewhat protected,” the researchers find.

To understand patent data, Webb makes use of a natural-language processing algorithm to analyze the nouns and verbs in patent filings.
The study determined that women are less likely to be affected by job displacement by AI. “Women are much more likely to be in occupations that require strong interpersonal skills,” Webb said in a phone interview.

He added: “We are too early in the development of AI to know how much more of the technology there is to be developed, and too early also to know how long it will take to be adopted. If history is a guide, the main impacts on the labor market may not appear for three decades.”

Muro and his colleagues agree that the timeline is yet unknown. “Webb’s novel procedures demonstrate that we have a lot to learn about artificial intelligence, and that these are extremely early days in our inquiries,” the researchers wrote. “What’s coming may not resemble what we have been experiencing or expect to experience.”