The application of artificial intelligence is expected to continue to make big changes to the way we live and work. A study published in 2013, found that 47% of jobs in America were at high risk of being automated out of existence by computer powered automation. At this point in time, economists are uncertain of how many new jobs the increase in the use of artificial intelligence will create. They do seem to agree that it will cause considerable economic disruption. As in the past, the economic upheaval will bring with it many political aftereffects.
Two of every five American workers toiled on farms in 1900, today the rate is one in 50. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), about 2 billion people out of the world’s 7.3 billion present-day population do not get enough to eat on a regular basis. To further complicate matters, the earth’s population is projected to increase to 9.7 billion by 2050. The FAO believes the current global rate of agricultural production will have to rise by 70% to meet the projected demand. Since the amount of cultivatable land is not going to increase by much and the size of the oceans are static, a lot of new agricultural technologies are going to have to be developed if food production yields are to be increased.
Economists are puzzled by the continued decline in the American labor force participation rate. It has dropped to 62.6 percent, a level not seen since the 1970s. A big part of the problem may be caused by males in the prime working age range of 25 to 54. They have been gradually disappearing from the nation’s workforce. While the male participation rate stood at a hefty 98 % in 1954, it has deteriorated over time to 88%. While many theories have been proposed as to the cause of the problem, there is no clear agreement among economists as to the cause or causes or the remedy.
American families are changing and some observers say the change is upsetting American society, helping to make it worse. The percentage of Americans who are married has dropped from 72% in 1960 to 50% in 2014.
China and India have a combined population of approximately 2.6 billion. In 2016, China’s economy is expected to grow by 6.6%, India’s by 7.5%. The growth rate of the two Asian countries is in sharp contrast to the 1.8% rate forecast for the United States and the European Union’s economic growth rate of 1.5%. China is now the domicile for 167 of the world’s 500 most powerful computers. As a result, China has passed the U.S. in the supercomputer rankings for the first time.
Chinese students are coming to America to obtain an education in record numbers. Last year there were over 394,600 students from China studying at American universities, primary and secondary schools. Their visiting parents have helped stimulate Chinese investment in the U.S. housing market. In 2015, Chinese investors spent $28.6 billion purchasing property in America.
When the precursor to the European Union (EU) was formed during the grim days after World War II, it had six member nations, a population of 177 million and an annual economic output $1.6 trillion. This year, when the United Kingdom voted to leave the organization, the EU had 28 members, a population of 505 million and an annual economic output of $19 trillion. The British exit has halted EU expansion, places the future of EU in doubt and is expected to have a detrimental effect on Britain’s economy over the long run.
The Panama Canal Authority has spent about $5 billion remodeling the canal so that the world’s biggest container ships would be able to transit the canal. As a consequence, America’s east coast ports are expected get busier and rail traffic across the country may drop a bit. The canal authority expects to see its revenue double by 2021 to approximately $2 billion.