Is AI a Job Killer or Enabler? 3 Reasons AI Redefines Not Replaces Jobs

Artificial intelligence is finally creeping out of the lab into the real world. It is disrupting almost all industries, ranging from healthcare to business and warfare. Regrettably, if you read headlines, you have seen how the business community is obsessed with what AI can do better than humans. Also, AI is publicized negatively as cannibalizing jobs, creating panic among workers.

However, it's time to change the conversation. Let's think about how AI and humans can do better together. The concept of AI replacing jobs is misinformed and unfounded. AI will not be a job killer but a job creator and help humans work better.

1. AI will Create New Jobs

AI is not going to replace all jobs. It will displace some jobs while creating others. The Future of Jobs 2018 report contends that AI will generate 133 million jobs while displacing 75 million jobs. Therefore, 58 million new jobs will be created in future. According to a PwC report, AI will create more than 7.2 million jobs in the UK alone in the next two decades. McKinsey affirms that 77% of companies do not expect the size of their workforce to change as a result of embracing automation and AI.  

Behshad Behzadi, one of Google's leading engineers, affirms that AI will create new jobs, some that do not exist currently. He gives an example of a flight attendant. Before the invention of planes, such a position was inexistent and unknown. No one could ever predict that such a job would appear. Likewise, with AI, new posts will spring up, some that no one can predict right now. What's important is to perceive AI as an opportunity, not a threat.

flight attendant standing between passenger seat

AI will bring jobs. For instance, it will create jobs for employing AI expertise in new fields and applications. Also, workers will be required to develop and train AI models and maintain the systems.

Another area that AI will create new jobs is in the education sector. Universities and colleges nationwide will require instructors to teach machine learning to students. Also, organizations will be looking for coaches and training experts to train their staff on AI and its applications in the business world.        

2. AI will Redefine Jobs

With AI, jobs will not disappear, but shift and evolve. AI will change how people do their jobs. It will redefine roles so that people perform the tasks they are best equipped to do. For example, a customer service agent does not have to retrieve and analyze data from a CRM to address a customer's issue. Instead, AI will analyze data so that the agent can make a real-time decision on the customer issue. Consequently, the agent offers customers seamless service.

AI can be a tool for improving the quality of life. It can help humans work faster and more efficiently than before. AI will create opportunities for workers to use uniquely human traits like creativity and empathy. It will allow workers to develop new ideas while passing insights to their AI counterparts. Also, AI will assist employees in propelling their careers to higher levels of analysis and strategic value. AI allows you to pursue careers that challenge you, offer autonomy, and foster a sense of meaning and wellbeing.

3. Automate Repetitive and Mundane Tasks

Among the main benefits of AI is automating repetitive and mundane tasks and liberating humans from routine work. A prime example is the invention of the modern spreadsheet. Before this invention, people had to create budgets, forecasts, and payrolls manually. This process was time-consuming, labor-intensive, and error-prone.

The spreadsheet made numerical calculations easier and seamless. But, did this invention result in substantial job losses? The simple answer is NO. It made financial professions more efficient and productive because they could divert their time and energy to other important tasks instead of the complicated calculations.

With AI, humans will no longer have to perform time-consuming and labor-intensive tasks such as accounting, assembly, and data entry. Instead, they will focus on productive work that makes us human. For instance, an AI solution can be used in customer support. It can handle repetitive customer issues such as refunds, passwords resets, and package tracking that consume valuable human time. The support team handles the nuanced questions that require care, empathy, and support that robots can't offer. An article in The Wall Street Journal titled The Robots are Coming, Welcome Them affirms that AI solutions like robots allow you to use your brains rather than your hands to perform physically tasking jobs.    

The current workforce needs a new set of skills to perform tasks that machines can't replicate and other emerging roles. Here are several skills that will be competitive in the AI-driven world.

  • Creative skills: AI is helping people write hit songs, incredible articles, and press releases. However, AI can't replicate a person's ability to create and invent.
  • Social skills: machines lack the interpersonal skills and intercultural sensitivity found in humans.
  • Cognitive skills: machines are less effective in making decisions based on data. Nevertheless, skills like decision-making, negotiation, reasoning, and problem-solving will be indispensable for human workers.
  • Emotional skills: while AI can help doctors and nurses diagnose diseases and determine treatment options, it cannot replicate empathy and emotional skills. The human touch and conversation with a physician will remain relevant.
  • Technology skills: workers will need technology skills to create technologies and train complex AI systems.
person holding click pen

Bottom Line

Technologies throughout history have always faced immense criticism. In 1889, critics of the telephone referred to it as 'a perpetual menace to life and property.' Similarly, in the 15th century, critics of the printing press feared that it would displace scribe monks. These technologies did not live to their critics' expectations. Instead, they helped humans through history.

Likewise, the critics of AI who suppose that it will replace jobs will be disappointed when it creates millions of jobs, some that are inexistent today. AI should not be feared as a job killer but embraced as a job enabler that can create numerous employment opportunities while redefining employees' roles.    

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