College Grads Are More Likely to Be Replaced by AI Than Those Without Degrees
Fri, December 9, 2022

College Grads Are More Likely to Be Replaced by AI Than Those Without Degrees

College graduates will be most affected by AI technologies compared to high school graduates / Photo Credit: Ljupco Smokovski (via Shutterstock)


In 2000, Goldman Sachs hired 600 people to “execute stock trades for the investment bank's major clients,” but in 2017, the number dropped to two traders as the others were replaced by automated trading systems, reported Aimi Picchi of American television and radio service CBS News. The traders were replaced because the systems could handle millions of transactions per minute. The rise of AI threatens many college-educated workers as the technology continues to become more sophisticated and is more adopted by various industries, according to Mark Muro, Jacob Whiton, and Robert Maxim of research group Brookings. 

The authors wrote, “better-educated, better-paid workers (along with manufacturing and production workers) will be the most affected by the new AI technologies, with some exceptions.” Previous forecasts of the impacts of AI on the labor market have stated that lower-skilled workers such as store cashiers, telemarketers, and fast-food workers will be the most affected by the advent of AI. However, the authors relied on a “novel approach” to determine which jobs could be affected by AI. 

Muro and his colleagues matched job and AI patent descriptions, as well as matching terms like “monitoring operating conditions” to find overlaps. Then, the authors determined which jobs “have the most exposure to the technology.” Per their research, highly educated individuals are more at risk of being taken over by AI than high school graduates. Individuals with graduate programs are “almost four times as exposed to AI” as opposed to people with high school diplomas. Those with bachelor’s degrees “are more than five times as exposed,” Muro and his team found. 

They stated, “Our analysis shows that AI will be a significant factor in the future work lives of relatively well-paid managers, supervisors and analysts.” Men are more at risk of having their jobs replaced by AI than women, the researchers said. They stated that women tend to work in occupations that require “high interpersonal skills” such as health care and teaching. This may offer a level of protection as it’s harder to train an AI to teach kids about numbers “than to crunch numbers,” the Brookings authors noted. 

Also, urban areas are more vulnerable to the encroachment of AI than America’s rural regions.  This shows that the basic urban geography of the information, technology, and professional-managerial economy is oriented towards strategy, prediction, and analytics, which are all vulnerable to AI.