Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both promising to bring good-paying jobs back to America, but analysts say neither of them has addressed one of the biggest challenges looming ahead: the impact of automation and the rise of artificial intelligence.
Some argue that the challenge will soon become impossible to ignore.
"Job losses due to automation and robotics are often overlooked in discussions about the unexpected rise of outside political candidates like Trump and Bernie Sanders," Moshe Vardi, an expert on artificial intelligence at Rice University, said before this month's conventions.
"U.S. factories are not disappearing: They simply aren't employing human workers," Vardi said.
That trend is hitting America's working class particularly hard.
"While manufacturing is the most striking example, there is considerable evidence that automation is transforming other sectors of the labor market, and there's increasing evidence that this leads to economic stratification, the decline of the middle class and the subsequent undercurrent of misery that is driving support of Trump," Vardi said.
The transportation sector is likely to be next, as autonomous vehicles start moving products and people. It's widely recognized, for example, that the biggest expense for ride-share services like Uber is the driver's pay.
In an email to GeekWire, Vardi said the automation of transportation could eliminate millions of jobs in the United States. "This is going to be a huge f…. deal," he wrote.
So far, automation has disproportionately affected routine occupations, University of British Columbia economist Henry Siu noted this month during a White House AI workshop in New York. "Those are occupations that perform a narrow set of rule-based and repetitive tasks," he said. That category takes in middle-class workers ranging from machine operators to travel agents to administrative assistants.