A.I.’s Negative Impact on African-American Workers—Data Sheet

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The rise of artificial intelligence and, by extension, automation, may hurt African-American workers more than some other racial groups.

Consulting firm McKinsey released a study this week about the future of work in Black America and found that African Americans could lose thousands of more jobs proportionally than white workers by 2030 due to automation. The study’s authors calculated the job displacement rate for the white population as 22.4% while the African American population had a potential displacement rate of 23.1%. Although the percentage difference is small, African American workers lose 132,000 more jobs than if they had the same displacement rate as white workers.

One reason is that African Americans “are often overrepresented in the ‘support roles’ that are most likely to be affected by automation, such as truck drivers, food service workers, and office clerks.”

Overall, African American workers could lose 4.5 million jobs by 2030.

The report underscores that while A.I. is ushering in an era of self-driving cars and cashierless stores, people who rely on service-industry jobs may be out of luck. 

In a previous report, McKinsey found that Hispanic and Latino Americans could be even more severely impacted by automation. The reasons are similar: Hispanics and Latinos are also overrepresented in industries in which automation is expected to increase in the coming years.

McKinsey didn’t provide easy answers in its report. But it did offer some ideas that could reduce the impact of A.I. on jobs including lawmakers and companies working together to reskill workers and more investment in cities like Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston or in high-growth hubs including Charlotte and Orlando. 

The report also highlighted how minority groups like the National Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People could help raise awareness about the issues and ensure that they are taken seriously. Newer tech-oriented organizations like Black in AI and Latinx In AI Coalition (LXAI) have already been vocal about the problem. 

As the LXAI notes on its website, “It’s imperative to ensure our community has a voice in the oncoming Autonomous Trucking revolution,” because “Hispanic men make up the 2nd largest demographic of the truck driver population.”

Businesses often talk about how A.I. will augment human workers of the future instead of eliminating them. But it’s a lot more complicated than they let on.  

Jonathan Vanian

On Twitter: @jonathanvanian

Email: jonathan.vanian@fortune.com


China slams Apple amid Hong Kong protests. China’s state media criticized Apple for approving an app that lets Hong Kong protestors track the whereabouts of law enforcement, The Wall Street Journal reportedThe People’s Daily called the app “toxic software.” 

Be careful what you say. Blizzard Entertainment barred Hong Kong-based professional e-sports player Ng Wai Chung from participating in Blizzard-related gaming tournaments for a year over comments he made supporting Hong Kong protestors, NPR reported. Chung, a leading e-sports player of the Blizzard online card-battling game Hearthstone, said he also had $10,000 in prize money rescinded.

Let’s talk about Russia. A bipartisan panel of U.S. senators is urging the White House, Congress, and Silicon Valley tech companies to safeguard social media platforms from potential misuse by Russian entities seeking to interfere with the 2020 U.S. elections, The Washington Post reported. “With the 2020 elections on the horizon, there’s no doubt that bad actors will continue to try to weaponize the scale and reach of social media platforms to erode public confidence and foster chaos,” Sen. Mark Warner said, according to the report.

What a security feature. Twitter said that it “recently discovered” that the email addresses and phone numbers people provided to the company for security purposes “may have inadvertently been used for advertising purposes.” The company said that it is no longer using those provided email addresses and phone numbers for advertising. 

Postmates postpones IPO plans. Food-delivery startup Postmates has told financial advisors that it plans to delay its upcoming IPO “due to market conditions,” tech publication Recode reported citing unnamed sources. The report said “company leadership has been pumping the brakes amid some internal debates over the ideal time to go public.”



Silicon Valley and the technology industry are siphoning astrophysicists from academia, turning the budding space scholars into machine-learning experts who can add to the data science teams at companies like Netflix, Google, Spotify, and Stitch Fix, Wired reported

To understand what’s driving astrophysicists into consumer product startups, consider the recent explosion of machine learning. Astrophysicists, who wrangle massive amounts of data collected from high-powered telescopes that survey the sky, have long used machine learning models, which “train” computers to perform tasks based on examples. Tell a computer what to recognize in one intergalactic snapshot and it can do the same for 30 million more and start to make predictions. But machine learning can also be used to make predictions about customers, and around 2012, corporations started to staff up with people who knew how to deploy it.


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Bloomberg News probed Oracle's cloud computing strategies over the past few years as it struggled to catch up to Amazon Web Services.

“Oracle is changing their message from being a cloud platform to a cloud solutions provider,” Osama Elkady, a former Oracle executive and the chief executive officer of Incorta, said in an interview. “Their message is Oracle cloud is the best for Oracle databases and applications. The margin Oracle could get from applications is much bigger than in computing. They know Amazon, Microsoft, and, to a lesser extent, Google already took that market.”

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Jonathan Vanian. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.

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