The advantages of artificial intelligence and automation are multifold. We are moving to a great, new world where we will have better productivity, better quality of work, reduction of human effort and reduction of overall costs. Fantastic, isn’t it? Time to think again!
While there is no doubt that our work will become easier with advancements in AI and automation, we need to be prepared for a future where there could be widespread job losses and unemployment. A study by McKinsey suggests that by 2030, intelligent agents and robots could eliminate as much as 30 percent of the world’s human labor. Scary, isn’t it? Especially if you are living in one of those under-developed/developing economies (read vulnerable economies) in the world, such massive job-cuts could possibly result in higher levels of poverty and affect growth adversely.
Let us look at the history of our world to find the right answers, instead of indulging in mere speculation. In the 1800s, when the world moved to automated textile machines where textiles were manufactured in plants/factories instead of production by manual workers, more and more jobs were created on account of advancements in technology. Similarly, when computers came in to being in the 1980s, there was widespread fear about job losses involving manual labor, due to this new invention; however we have seen how this invention has helped in creating millions of jobs, apart from making our jobs and lives much easier.
It is therefore to be noted that in all likelihood, AI and automation will only replace certain tasks and not replace any jobs. AI and machine learning will take over boring, mundane and routine tasks so that human efforts can be directed towards higher level tasks which involve judgment, social skills and other hard-to-automate human capabilities. This will not only result in higher job satisfaction due to better quality of work, but also enable all workers to focus on those aspects of the job which need their attention the most.
Time will only tell what eventually happens, although we do know that history repeats itself. And if history were to repeat itself, then advancements in science and technology should only result in adding more jobs and increasing overall employment instead of reducing jobs, as is widely feared. It is important for us to think about the ‘Future of Jobs’ and be prepared accordingly to embrace the new world. Cheers!