AI has the power to massively improve our lives. However, there’s still many people that believe AI could actually have a negative effect, due to issues surrounding job losses, criminal use, and ethical issues. Out of all of these concerns the biggest of them all amongst most people is job losses. So is the possibility of job losses a legitimate concern?
If you think AI won’t impact your industry, then think again. Although AI will certainly not eliminate most of our jobs, it will definitely eliminate a large number. The Mckinsey Global Institute suggests that by 2030, intelligent agents and robots could eliminate as much as 30 percent of the world’s human labor. This would equate to around 800 million job losses.
This figure should give us a reason to worry, as AI will almost certainly replace jobs among the highly trained and poorly educated alike. From accountants and radiologists to factory workers and truckers, it’s set to put a variety of industries at risk.
We’ve already seen the start of this with the introduction of self-driving trucks, cashier-less stores and chatbots. Artificial intelligence is starting to displace jobs in ways we can’t even imagine. When you also factor in the large cost savings AI can bring to businesses it’s no surprise to see AI technology being adopted at an ever-growing rate. This was highlighted by Gartner Inc. who found that more than 90% of businesses plan to have implemented AI technology in some way within the next three years.
Although many jobs could be at risk, it appears that some of these jobs could be eliminated in areas that are often considered tedious and repetitive. Data entry is a good example. Having to input data into a computer system is certainly a job that can be considered to be tedious. So if AI was able to eliminate such repetitive tasks and allow us to focus on more complex and rewarding projects, would this not be a good thing?
Given that many people are dissatisfied in their jobs nowadays, AI could give us the ability to pursue careers that challenge us, give us a greater sense of well-being, and provide us with more autonomy. Three important attributes of a satisfying job.
And when one door closes, another opens. AI looks sure to pave the way for new jobs. In fact, this was the case in 2018 when ZipRecruiter found that AI created three times as many jobs as it destroyed. The World Economic Forum also reported that although AI and automation will displace 75 million jobs, it will also generate 133 million new ones worldwide by 2022.
What previous experiences tell us…
We only have to go back to the 80s where we faced a similar situation. Many people in this time believed that the invention on the computer could also displace many jobs. But was this true?
PCs certainly did cause job losses particularly among bookkeepers and secretaries, but it also created many jobs; jobs that didn’t even exist before. The invention of the computer helped to create many jobs in fields such as manufacturing, IT support services, call centers, and in e-commerce.
McKinsey estimates that since the 1980s, PCs have created 15.8 million new jobs in the U.S. alone. They also reported that about 18% of jobs in the U.S. today did not exist in 1980. So while many feared that jobs would be lost, the invention of PCs actually created more jobs than were displaced.
It looks set to be the same story for AI. There will almost certainly be job losses around the world, but it’s also sure to create more in the process.
How can people overcome the job losses?
When it comes to overcoming job losses the key is to simply prepare for it. Governments and companies will have to help prepare the workforce for the future. By investing in retraining and “up-skilling” programmes this can help mitigate the pain of the transition.
It will also fall on people to continuously learn in order to meet the new workforce demands. The ones who proactively seek to expand and evolve their skills will end up being the talent that’s the most in-demand.
In conclusion it seems that any fears and concerns regarding AI are understandable but ultimately unwarranted. It’s an upcoming industry that shouldn’t be feared, but embraced. AI has the ability to solve some of life’s biggest issues and the sooner we embrace and prepare for it, the better.