As we know from last week’s post there are divided views on AI, robotics and the future of jobs. We looked at the top 3 arguments to support AI and Robotics creating more jobs. This week we are going to dive into the expert’s argument on AI displacing jobs.
Robots have already transformed industrial manufacturing, and now they are being rolled out for food production and kitchens. AI machines can already perform tasks where learning and judgment is required including self-driving cars, accounting and HR. A lot of experts who argue that AI and Robotics will create more jobs, reference the point in history when farming machinery displaced farm workers but created factory jobs. This is a true statement however, the are missing one of the main points, robotics alone are different from the use of robotics and AI together. The difference is that today’s AI technology aims to replace the human mind, not simply make industry more efficient. Due to their versatility and growing capabilities, not just a few economic sectors will be affected, but a large majority.
A November 2017 report from global management consulting firm McKinsey on the effects of automation on jobs, skills and wages for the period ending in 2030 estimates that fully 50% of current work activities are automatable by technologies that have already been tested and found effective. The report predicts that in 60 percent of occupations, at least one-third of activities could be automated. The report expects 400 million to 800 million people could be displaced by automation in the next 12 years, creating a challenge potentially greater than past historic shifts, at least in the modern era.
According to Jerry Michalski, founder of REX, the Relationship Economy eXpedition, Automation is Voldemort: the terrifying force nobody is willing to name. What does he mean? Well, it is the topic people seem to talk about occasionally but only in passing. After all, we don’t want to dwell on the idea that someone who is trying to pick a career path that is not likely to be automated will have a very hard time making that choice.
It is thought that certain highly-skilled workers will excel in the new automation environment however, far more will be displaced into lower wage service industry jobs or be permanently unemployed. According to a recent analysis by Frey and Osborne at Oxford, autonomous robots and systems could impact up to 50 % of jobs, leaving only the jobs that require creativity. It is clear that these experts can agree that AI and robotics will have a substantial impact on white-collar jobs. These displacements seem certain to lead to a continued hollowing out of the middle class. According to Stowe Boyd, lead researcher at GigaOM Research, The central question of 2025 will be: What are people for in a world that does not need their labor, and where only a minority are needed to guide the ‘bot-based economy?
One point of agreement for both sides of the argument is that the education system is doing a poor job of preparing the next generation of workers.
The challenge is to be cognizant of the costs and risks, so that one can develop strategies to meet the future with resilience. One way to do this is to plan for the changes to come. Check out our previous article Plan For Change – Redesigning Roles And Responsibilities To Accommodate The Future Of AI.