Since the first Terminator film was released, a lot of people started to speculate about the threat machines could have on us, the humankind. Some other popular movies like "Wall-E", "Stealth", "I, Robot" and "Eagle Eye" have also shown us what artificial intelligence is capable of. But those are just movies – a fragment of someone's imagination. Or does it have anything to do with reality?
Well, AI and machine learning aren't some things of the distant future. They are very much a part of our reality. In fact, they have evolved and made our lives a lot easier over the years. From showing you the exact fare for your cab ride based on the route of your preference to helping students get rid of plagiarism using an automated paraphrasing tool – AI and machine learning are shaping our lifestyle in a significant way. However, that’s just one side of the story.
In an interview, AI expert Kai Fu Lee shared his belief that 40% of the world's job will be replaced by robots capable of automating tasks in 15 years. If his predictions are true, then millions of people will be losing their jobs. As a matter of fact, a lot of jobs have already started to become obsolete as technology (automated, computerized, AI-driven) has replaced them in the past few years.
How Are AI and Machine Learning Replacing Human Workforce?
The loss of jobs due to AI automation has been a subject of numerous studies and surveys over the past few years. A study from an Oxford researcher duo, Carl Benedikt and Michael Osborne estimated that 47% of jobs in America are at the high risk of automation by the mid-2030s. According to Oxford Economics, up to 20 million manufacturing jobs around the world will be lost to an automaton by 2030.
That’s not all. McKinsey Global Institute predicts that between 40 million and 160 million women around the world may need transition between occupations by 2030. The clerical work done by bookkeepers, secretaries and schedulers is more at the risk of being replaced by automation. And a massive 72% of those job-roles in advanced economics are held by women.
McKinsey Global Institute's report also revealed that AI automation is more likely to affect the rural areas in the US. Compared to those, the urban areas with more diversified economies and people with higher educational attainment will face the less severe impact of the automation.
It is quite evident that AI and machine learning will put a lot of traditional jobs out of business, but if you look at the situation from a business point of view, some of these changes are essential.
The positive side of AI automation
While millions of jobs will be lost due to machine learning and AI-led automation, experts believe that the phenomenon will also create an impressive number of new jobs. According to the World Economic Forum, automation will put 75 million jobs out of order, while generating 133 million new jobs across the world by 2022.
According to popular research and advisory firm, Gartner, AI-related job creation will reach the 2 million mark for net-new jobs in 2025. By then, machines are expected to perform more current work tasks than humans. As of now, nearly 71% of the work tasks are performed by humans. Such transformation is expected to make a huge impact on the global workforce.
The report shared by McKinsey Global Institute indicates that with sufficient economic growth, innovation and investment around the world, we will get to witness a significant number of new jobs which can certainly offset the impact of automation. However, in some of the advanced economies, additional investments will be required to reduce the risk of job shortages. The US is expected to see net positive job growth by 2030.
Amidst all this, a recent Forrester report offers an argument that automation is not a singular trend. In fact, it suggests that the future scenarios are influenced by varying fortunes of several trends, including gig economy, the increasing desire for privacy and transparency, and the destruction of industry boundaries.
However, Forrester predicts that there will be job losses of 29% while the percentage of job creation will stay as low as 13% by 2030. Now, that is something that is a concern for all of us.
What Do Professionals Think About AI Automation?
In a survey report shared by Boston Consulting Group, 67% of Chinese executives and 50% of US executives expect a significant reduction in the number of employees over the next 5 years as companies start to adopt advanced robotics for operations.
Another survey report from ZipRecruiter revealed that one in five job seekers in the US fear that they will one day lose their jobs to AI. Sadly, the ratio drops to one in three job seekers when the survey is conducted among the people of age 18-22.
The most insightful details come from the recent survey of 4,394 Americans, 3,049 Canadians and 3,208 UK adults, conducted by Gallup and Northeastern University. The survey revealed mixed reactions from the survey participants. Here’s what the survey found:
- Even though there is a pessimistic attitude towards the influence of AI adoption on the overall economy, the adults in these three countries are quite optimistic about their own jobs.
- 70% Americans, 60% Canadians, and 60% of UK residents believe that AI automation will eliminate more jobs than it creates.
- 60% of the Canadian and UK respondents believe that teamwork, creativity, communication and critical thinking are the best skills to withstand AI. Interestingly, the American respondents are split between these "soft" skills and technical skills, including coding, math, science and data handling.
The survey report also suggests that despite enough media coverage on the issue of AI in all these countries, a lot of people are still confused about what the technology is about.
Whether you like it or not, AI automation is inevitable. And if you are preparing for a career in one of the traditional jobs, then you need to reconsider your decision. It is safe to pursue a career which will have significance even after the AI automation takes its course. If things go wrong and machines do take over the world, you don’t want to end up on their “naughty” list.