As has become standard practice at the dawn of a new year,the media is awash with predictions for the coming twelve months. It should come as no surprise that, as the buzzword of the last decade, many of these predictions concern how artificial intelligence (AI) will shape our personal and professional lives.
One question that is being asked in workplaces around the world is: will AI take my job? This is perhaps unsurprising given the dystopian predictions being bounced around by the media of robots outsmarting us and destroying millions of livelihoods.
While it’s clear that AI is changing the face of the workforce, we should not get swept up in the media frenzy. Indeed, if we take a step back and calmly consider the more realistic impact of AI, the picture is far less worrisome. The growing role of this technology instead holds fantastic promise.
How AI will reinvent the job market
There is a grain of truth to this original question; this much we cannot deny. A 2018 report from the World Economic Forum suggests that while 75 million jobs may be displaced globally by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines in the next five years. That said, 133 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to this division. This means that this movement could create 58 million new jobs in just half a decade.
So perhaps the question should be refocused. Rather than concentrating on whether AI will ‘replace’ the workforce, we should seek to understand how it will reshape it.
Given AI’s USPs, it’s clear why its presence within business is so coveted. AI’s ability to harness and analyse huge swathes of data – and glean powerful insights from it – has the power to relieve the human worker from tedious and time-consuming tasks.
A simple example of the efficiency balance that can be struck between humans and machines lies in the financial advice market. Today, digital financial advisers in the form of chatbots are increasingly taking over time-consuming responsibilities of advisers. Using AI algorithms, these digital assistants are able to, for instance, complete speedy financial checks on a client and use that data to suggest how they can achieve their financial goals.
Not only does this improve efficiency, it also allows professionals to spend more time on more creative and rewarding tasks like building up the client relationship.
What does this mean for professionals?
We cannot deny that automation will make many jobs redundant. It will also fundamentally change the nature of others. However, this opens up a host of new opportunities for people to upskill and explore other disciplines. Indeed, the advancement of AI means that professionals can evolve their skill sets to ensure a smooth and powerful collaboration between humans and machines.
For one, in 2020 there will be a huge demand for STEM professionals; data scientists and engineers who can build AI toolsets and ensure they create value for businesses. However, not everyone will be well-suited to fill this vacuum. Luckily, we will also see greater demand for more distinctively ‘human’ skills, bringing to the forefront positions like Customer Service Workers, Human Resources Specialists and Innovation Managers.
No matter how far AI advances in the coming months and years, humans will remain central to the job market. 2020 is set to be an exciting year for AI, and we are looking forward what the future holds for this technology within the workplace!
April 2018 Published in Forbes