Labor displacement in artificial intelligence era: A systematic literature review

Chu Chen Rosa Yeh, Cze Chiun Jasmine Wong, Wei Wen Vera Chang, Chih Chien Steven Lai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has made labor displacement once again the hottest issue. The rapid development of AI enhances many functions of machines and has been widely implemented in industries such as medicine, healthcare, service, hospitality, and manufacturing. Since the industrial revolution, machines have been used to complete tasks that humans used to perform, which lead to labor displacement, especially in the manufacturing industry. In the AI era, machines are getting smarter and the predictions are that one day machines may surpass human beings in many ways. Therefore, an intriguing question that asks will AI take over the human’s job? has been the central theme in many research inquiries. As an attempt to find clues for the answer to that question, this study conducted a literature review to present the status quo of research and current conclusions of labor displacement research in the AI era. The review included 39 scholarly articles published in the Scopus database between 2016 and 2019. Through open coding and axial coding, three distinctive perspectives emerged on the impact of AI on labor, i.e., the optimistic view (e.g., new jobs, augmentation, added human value), the pessimistic view (e.g., unemployment, technology gaining control over humans, increasing social polarization), and the neutral view (e.g., too early to tell). This paper first provides a brief history of AI then reports the findings from the literature review. A common conclusion in the literature is that AI is still an evolving technology at this time and its future development remains at the hands of humans. It relies on human intelligence to guide the proper advancement of AI applications to benefit the human society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-75
Number of pages51
JournalTaiwan Journal of East Asian Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Labor displacement
  • Labor market

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • General Arts and Humanities


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