Will AI take my job?
This is a question being asked in workplaces around the world. Unsurprising perhaps, given the apocalyptic predictions being bounced around by the media. The fear is that advancements in automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will overtake the rate of progress of the human workforce, and destroy millions of livelihoods in the process.
Whilst it’s clear that AI and other tech advancements are changing the face of the workforce, we should not get swept up in the media frenzy. Indeed, if we take a step back and calmly consider the more realistic impact of AI on the workforce, the picture is far less worrisome. In fact, the growing role of AI across all sectors holds fantastic promise.
A 2018 report from the World Economic Forum suggests that while 75 million jobs may be displaced globally by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines in the next five years, 133 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to this division. This means that this movement could create 58 million new jobs in just half a decade.
So perhaps the question should be refocused. Rather than concentrating on whether AI will ‘replace’ the workforce, we should seek to understand how it will reshape it.
Will the job market change?
Naturally, the introduction of AI-fuelled software solutions will have an impact on different sectors – this much we cannot deny. Given AI’s unparalleled ability to harness and analyse huge swathes of data, it is naturally placed to overtake repetitive, time-consuming and resource-intensive tasks. Beyond this, machine learning (ML) capabilities mean that AI software can learn from itself and continuously improve the quality of its output.
A prime example of AI’s business potential can be found within the financial advice market; a professional sector that was, until recently, thought to be safe from automation. Today, AI augments the work of human professionals. Digital financial advisers, in the form of chatbots, are now being used to provide advice on pensions, savings and investments. Using AI algorithms, these digital assistants can complete speedy financial checks on a client and use that data to suggest how they can achieve their financial goals.
However, these chatbots are not lone operators; they are backed by a team of human advisers. This highlights the growing trend of humans and machines working together to boost productivity. Most importantly, the in-depth insights that AI can gain from sources such as a user’s financial history and habits can enhance human advisers’ own understanding of the data they work with which will, in all likelihood, result in improving the quality of advice they give. What’s more, it also allows them to spend more time focussing on the client relationship rather than wasting valuable time shifting through huge volumes of data.
The job market is constantly changing, and arguably the most important catalyst of progress today is AI. However, it is not the imposing and disruptive monster that some fear. On the contrary, this technology creates value; not only does it leave professionals with more time to complete fulfilling and creativity-intense work, but it also improves the speed, efficiency and accuracy of their daily tasks.
AI will create jobs
We are likely to see AI make some jobs largely obsolete in the coming twelve months, and fundamentally change the nature of others. However, this opens up a host of new opportunities for people to upskill and explore other disciplines. Indeed, the advancement of AI means that professionals can evolve their skill sets to ensure a smooth and powerful collaboration between humans and machines.
Consequently, digital and data skills will be on the rise; Data Analysts and Scientists, Software and Applications Developers, and Ecommerce and Social Media Specialists are just some examples of new job disciplines that the next generation of professionals can look forward to joining, according to the aforementioned World Economic Forum report.
While not everyone will become programmers or engineers, we can also begin to reinvent the way we think about work and what opportunities are available to us. The same report suggests that we will begin to see opportunities growing in roles that require more distinctively ‘human’ skills, such as Customer Service Workers, Human Resources Specialists, and Innovation Managers. No matter how far AI advances over the next few years, humans have certain characteristics that machines cannot replace.
There is no doubt: we’re living in exciting times. The conventional wisdom is that AI will create new jobs and supplement the workforce. Now, we must ensure that businesses and professionals alike can keep up with the rate of advancement of this technology and leverage AI to their best advantage.