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Public discussion of the effects of automation and artificial intelligence often focuses on the productivity benefits for companies and the economy, on the one hand, and on the potential downside for workers, on the other.Now that a new generation of technologies is being adopted, the question is whether similar benefits to wellbeing will follow, or whether fears of technological unemployment will create new sources of stress, undercutting consumer confidence and spending.AI, in particular, could increase people's quality of life substantially, by raising productivity, spawning new products and services, and opening up new markets.Calculating the likely effects of welfare-enhancing innovation is a complex process. In our own assessment, we have built on methods of welfare quantification developed by economists Charles Jones and Peter Klenow of Stanford University, as well as others in the growing field of happiness research. Using a schematic constant risk-aversion model as a benchmark, we find that the United States and Europe could experience welfare gains from AI and other frontier technologies that exceed those delivered by computers and earlier forms of automation in recent decades. To capture the far-reaching benefits of digital technologies, AI, and automation, we will need to strike a careful balance, fostering both innovation and the skills to harness whatever it unleashes.
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