Original article was published by Elena Beliaeva-Baran on Artificial Intelligence on Medium
How AI Will Affect The Job Market
…and should we be afraid?
The global economic disruption that COVID-19 has caused, accelerated the digital transformation and AI automation of many jobs.
“Digitalization has found a new meaning and it is going to reach more and more sectors” — Deloitte, 2020.
The accelerated digitalization and AI automation of jobs have brought further opportunities for businesses.
➡ This resulted in the raised demand for AI tools over some human-operated jobs.
➡ As a logical consequence, there is now a massive general fear of global mega-unemployment.
But let’s try to answer this question:
Have we already experienced a somewhat similar economic transformation in history?
➡ The answer is yes. The scale of the economic transformation that is coming in the next 10 years can be comparable to the transition from agriculture to production.
It is in human nature to react with a fight-or-flight response to the circumstances that we perceive as a threat to the established lifestyle.
However, there is currently no expert research that will back-up the viewpoint that AI automation will lead to the rise of unemployment.
On contrary, the global research centres and leading consulting companies are forecasting the rise of the new professions. For instance, PwC estimates that by 2037, AI, robotics and automation will displace around 7 million jobs but create 7,2 million jobs in the UK alone.
Despite the constantly growing variety of AI applications, its abilities cannot match the human grasp. Compared to humans, AI has a major but very limited strength:
➡ automation of large, monotonous and time-consuming tasks.
The beginning of an automation era brings out the importance and the demand for soft skillset. At the current stage of AI-development, automation cannot fully replace humans due to the lack of vital humans skills. For instance, it can neither multitask nor analyse the environment outside the task and learn from it. It also cannot adapt to the changing setting or reskill itself without changes in the initial code or other human-support.
“The reality is that humans need to be able to work with machines more and more, not that machines need to work completely without humans”
writes Alex Castrounis in “AI for People and Business” (2019).
As far as in 1966 the National Commission on Technology, Automation and Economic Progress in their report “Technology and the American Economy” pointed out:
« The basic fact is that technology eliminated jobs, not work »
“…It is the continuous obligation of economic policy to match increases in productive potential with increases in purchasing power and demand.
Otherwise, the potential created by technical progress runs to waste in idle capacity, unemployment, and deprivation.”
Nevertheless, the report was written 54 years ago, the quote is remarkably relevant to modern society and the rise of AI automation. The technological process will only continue to move forward. And in order to match its’ growing advancement, workers require consistent skills development.
According to the report produced by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), in 2019 there was currently a massive skills gap in the United States. The number of high-skilled jobs was constantly increasing. So did a shortage of qualified workers. According to the report, in 2019, the shortage of skilled workers has caused:
“83% of respondents have had trouble recruiting suitable candidates in the past 12 months”
Even though the report above is from 2019, it still explains the point clearly: