The panic based on the notion that artificial intelligence (AI) is taking away all of our jobs might be, well … artificial.
AI is not going to take away jobs. It will displace some jobs, yes, but it will more likely change what human workers do. I believe the panic over AI eliminating tons of human jobs is misinformed. I’m not alone. There are experts who believe AI will actually create a plethora of new jobs (many of which we don’t even know what they’ll be yet).
During a panel at Mobile World Congress, Google’s Behshad Behzadi likened this to the flight attendant. Before commercial airlines and flying existed, he argued, we never would have imagined the job of a flight attendant. I think this is such a creative way to think about what’s going to happen with AI — there are so many unforeseen opportunities on the horizon
PwC predicts (via the Guardian) that AI will create over 7.2 million jobs in the U.K. alone over the next two decades. And according to McKinsey, about 77% of companies “expect no net change in the size of their workforces in either Europe or the United States as a result of adopting automation and AI technologies. Indeed, more than 17% expect their workforces on both sides of the Atlantic to grow.”
Jobs will shift and evolve, not disappear. AI will augment how people complete their work by doing things like pulling and analyzing data to aid in real-time decision making. An example of this might be how AI could empower a customer service agent with information from a CRM platform to help the agent decide whether or not to issue a refund.
As businesses look to leverage AI across their organizations, a skills gap will emerge among human employees. According to McKinsey, AI and the “human-machine interaction will bring numerous benefits in the form ofhigher productivity, GDP growth, improved corporate performance, and new prosperity, but they will also change the skills required of human workers.”
With AI automating repeatable and mundane tasks — from accounting to the assembly line — the skill set of the human workforce needs to evolve. The focus and responsibilities of the average employee will widen and deepen. People will need to have a wealth of knowledge and more skills. Essentially, they will need to be great at doing a lot of things. We need to think about educating our current and future workforce to learn the skills that machines can’t replicate:
• Creative skills: Yes, AI is helping people write hit songs and iscomposing music, but AI will not be able to truly replicate a human’s ability to create, invent and be inspiring. Entrepreneurism and initiative-taking will rise 33% in the United States and 32% in Europe.
• Social skills: Machines are not great at interpersonal interactions, being leaders or participating in a brainstorm. AI will also find it hard to have intercultural sensitivity, which is fundamental for successful employees of global companies.
• Cognitive skills: According to a Financial Times article (paywall): “[AI] is less effective when it has to make judgments based on the specific data on which it has been trained. In the real world, people often make decisions about situations they have not previously faced. The problem lies in systems that can match data but not understand its significance.” Skills like complex problem solving, reasoning, negotiating and decision making will be important for human workers.
• Emotional Skills: AI technology is not close to being able to replicate empathy, adaptability and other emotional skills. Think about this in the form of health care. While AI is empowering doctors and nurses with information to help them make decisions and complete various tasks, the human touch and conversation with a doctor will always remain important.
• Technological skills: Of course, technical knowledge and understanding will remain critical, especially in the deep learning field, to create and train complex AI systems.
AI is going to bring about a paradigm shift. New skills are needed in a world where machines are augmenting businesses. We can’t leave behind our current workforce — we need to think about how we’re educating and up-leveling our teams. Honing the skills that are uniquely human, while also becoming cross-disciplinary experts, will be the new reality of human work.
I believe that the payoffs of a human-AI workforce will be astonishing. Because humans can focus on true innovation, critical thinking and complex reasoning, human intelligence and the output of human work will skyrocket, along with rise of AI.