October 01, 2017

Why Work Hard? The Impact of AI on Jobs - October 2017

One of the largest concerns against Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning is that it will take away employment from many, as human-based jobs are taken over by automation. However, is this really the case?                           

AI technologies have been transforming the ways in which companies operate. In customer care, for example, the use of chat bots and automated interactions allow customers to have questions answered quickly without waiting on hold for a live agent. Additionally, many AI self-support materials and collaterals available through web and mobile apps make it easier for customers to find the answers they need wherever they are.

A recent article by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) titled “How Companies Are Already Using AI” compiled several studies on AI and automated jobs in the United States. One study by Oxford University believed that 47% of jobs would be automated by 2033. Another report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said 9% of jobs in the 21 countries that comprise of its membership could be automated.  McKinsey estimated that AI-driven job losses would be around 5%. Yet another study by Tata Consultancy Services predicted a job lost between 4 and 7% by 2020. However, despite this consensus that some jobs would be lost due to artificial intelligence, the article took the slant that while AI will take away jobs, it will also create new ones. Overall, the article conveyed that the fears of future job losses is exaggerated and that the public should pay attention to the benefits that AI provides. 

How Companies are Using AI?

                                                                                                                                                                                 Source: HBR

There is a balance between AI taking over human-based jobs and also providing new jobs. In customer care, for instance, tier-one jobs are mostly found offshore and these are the ones being taken over by bots and self-support materials. The cost reductions due to this allow companies to spend more time and money investing in their tier-two departments, which house the live agents who have the skillsets to solve complex customer issues. Additionally, these tier-two live agents can benefit from AI technologies by using them as assistants

 Some experts predict that the growing utilization of AI in a range of industries will increase the demand for engineering and IT skills to build and manage automated processes. Additionally, the tech revolution is creating a flood of new products, services and industries which will require workers and thus create jobs. Research-based firm TechCast Global believes that the field of energy, climate change and environment will create a $10 to $20 trillion global industry. TechCast estimates that at a market saturation for about 50 technologies at an average of about $1 trillion each, there is a total of $50 trillion in new economic growth over the next few decades – which is as big as the present global economy.

 Rather than focusing on the jobs that AI will take away from the workforce, some industry insiders believe we should be focusing on re-training and re-educating our workforces to adapt. This may include actually relying on AI as a teacher and guide to learn new required skills. Hence, AI becomes a partner not an adversary.