Many claims have been made about the vast potential of artificial intelligence (AI). And indeed, from sheep-shearing robots to self-driving Lyft cars, the possibilities are near-endless when it comes to what AI can do for the world and the people who live in it. However, the fanfare over AI is not without its share of alarm -- especially when it comes to the future of the workforce. While we may not know exactly what to expect, here’s a closer look at four ways experts think AI may change what jobs look like moving forward.
1. Jobs may change in nature but won’t disappear.
When most people hear the words “AI” and “jobs” they immediately jump to the topic of machines replacing human workers. However, this may be a leap in the wrong direction. According to Euan Cameron, PWC’s first UK artificial intelligence leader, it’s not about whether machines will take human jobs, but rather about how they’ll change them.
Cameron told Marginalia, “In many cases the nature of jobs will change rather than disappear because of AI. And automation will also enable some workers to focus on higher value, more rewarding, and creative work, removing the monotony from their day jobs. We are of course expecting new types of roles too.”
He continues, “There has always been disruption whenever new technology has ticked. We saw it with the industrial mass production, the internet, personal computing, and enterprise technology. In all those instances, the technology created periods of rapid disruption in terms of jobs. New technology has always made some tasks and roles disappear more quickly, but it also has created new occupations. This is how our society has evolved. The same is true with artificial intelligence.”
The takeaway? As with most things in life, the ability to adapt and evolve can mean the difference between survival and extinction.
2. Some fields will be more affected by AI than others.
This isn’t to say all jobs are safe. Machines are very good at certain manual and routine tasks, and this will lead to job replacement -- particularly in more susceptible sectors like transportation and storage, manufacturing, and wholesale retail trade. Healthcare, customer service, and finance are also projected to be among the industries most impacted by AI -- both in terms of job replacement and job enhancement.
But even these vulnerabilities aren’t necessarily cause for concern so long as workers commit themselves to staying productive and relevant. Says Cameron, “We need to develop an attitude towards continuous re-skilling. It’s about understanding and recognizing that existing relevant skills, that we may have spent so much time on to develop, might not be sufficient or applicable throughout our career. It requires the ability to adapt over time and retrain throughout our working life in the face of the accelerating pace of technological change.”
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