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Artificial Intelligence: A Job Killer or Creator?

How will the future job market look like? A question that is raising a lot of concerns in today's dynamic and increasingly globalized world. Many technological breakthroughs especially Artificial Intelligence, IoT and Robotics are unleashing new capabilities and fundamentally changing the way we live and work. This technological revolution being referred to as the 4th Industrial Revolution is believed to have significant impact not just on industries and business but also society. Many studies and initiatives are examining what these changes mean for our work, our income, our education.

Automation enabled by these technologies applies mostly at a task level, therefore while certain jobs are 100% automatable and will be lost, many other jobs will be created – almost all will change.

Jobs Killed

The conversation on the number of jobs AI will displace in the future has been subject to many studies and surveys globally by reputed research institutes. It spiked in 2013 when a pair of Oxford academics, estimated that 47% of American jobs are at high risk of automation by the mid-2030s.


Jobs requiring repetitive tasks in a structured setting, primarily in manufacturing, will be the first to be directly affected by automation, with the auto industry leading the charge. A Bloomberg article identifies; Store cashier, clerk, telemarketer, paralegal, cook, waiter, receptionist, bank teller, security guard, data analyst, tax preparer and truck drivers among the jobs most susceptible to automation.

A study by McKinsey Global Institute identifies that between 40 million and 160 million women worldwide may need to transition between occupations by 2030, often into higher-skilled roles.

Clerical work, done by secretaries, schedulers and bookkeepers, is an area especially susceptible to automation, and 72% of those jobs in advanced economies are held by women.

Recent release from the Oxford Economics states the rise of the robots will boost productivity and economic growth, but existing business models in many sectors will be seriously disrupted and millions of existing jobs will be lost - estimating up to 20 million manufacturing jobs set to be lost to robots by 2030 which is 8.5% of the global manufacturing workforce.

The global impact is quite significant; an IBM study indicates that more than 120 million workers in the world’s 12 largest economies may need to be retrained/ re-skilled in the next 3 years as a result of intelligent/ AI enabled automation. Jobs Created


Despite the fear of job displacements, research and surveys also points out the immense contribution of exponential technologies in surging economic growth, creating new jobs and also playing more of an augmentation to existing jobs.


Among the range of established roles that are set to experience increasing demand in the period up to 2022 are Data Analysts and Scientists, Software and Applications Developers, and Ecommerce and Social Media Specialists, roles that are significantly based on and enhanced by the use of technology.


Moreover, World Economic Forum’s report: Future of Jobs finds extensive evidence of accelerating demand for a variety of wholly new specialist roles related to understanding and leveraging the latest emerging technologies: AI and Machine Learning Specialists, Big Data Specialists, Process Automation Experts, Information Security Analysts, User Experience and Human-Machine Interaction Designers, Robotics Engineers, and Block chain Specialists.

While it states that 75 million jobs will be displaced until 2022, It also identifies 133 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms creating 58 million net new jobs.

A 2018 survey by Accenture titled “Reworking the Revolution” estimates that new applications of AI combined with human collaboration could boost employment worldwide as much as 10 percent between 2018 -2022 and boost revenues by 38% by 2022.

Mining data from more than 50 million job postings, ZipRecruiter found that AI created three times as many jobs as it destroyed in 2018 in the US. The fastest growing jobs AI has created from 2017 to 2018 include Senior Data Scientist with an annual growth of 340% (resulting in average salaries of $257,000 according to Burtch Works), Mobile Application Developer (186%) and SEO Specialist (180%). AI is creating “a surge in new career opportunities,” says the ZipRecruiter report.


How do we stay relevant?


Embracing new technology provides a golden opportunity for emerging and developing economies to leapfrog – attaining faster and higher levels of economic growth and prosperity in a shorter span of time. Exponential technologies increase productivity, accuracy, efficiency and but also poses the threat of creating a global “useless class” of humans says historian, Yuval Noah Harari.


Education systems play a vital role to support and create this new wave of future workers that will not fall into this ‘useless’ class but will be in demand tomorrow. A challenge to be tackled by new age education models because no one knows what skills learned at 20 will be relevant at 40.


Education needs to focus on the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) from an early age and adapt a life-long learning approach than fixed and timed curriculum which get easily outdated especially in a field such as Artificial Intelligence. Such technical skills balanced with soft skills such as team work, communication, creativity, critical thinking will create a workforce that’s ready to take on tomorrow.

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© 2020 by Niki Gomez.