Did you know that artificial intelligence can be categorized as either weak or strong? Weak AI are technologies trained to perform a clearly defined task. Examples include virtual assistants or customer service bots. Strong AI, on the other hand, is characterized by its generalized human, cognitive capabilities. As such, strong AI (or artificial general intelligence as some like to call it), can reach conclusions and find solutions to complex problems without human intervention. No wonder AI is setting a revolution is motion, in which many current jobs will be made redundant. Here’s what AI might mean for the future of work.
According to PwC, 30% of today’s jobs will be taken over by machines by the 2030’s. Which ones? Well, there is a website called willrobotstakeovermyjob.com. When entering a job title, the site gives you a percentage of the likelihood of this particular job being taken over by AI. For instance, the site states that bus drivers have a 74% chance of losing their jobs to AI, accountants 94% and psychologists only 0.4%. This illustrates that strong AI will be perfectly able to perform tasks such as approving loans, deciding on hiring an applicant or identifying financial crime. It could be said that occupations involving social, literacy and emotional abilities run the lowest risk of being made redundant.
Large technology companies such as Amazon, Google and Apple are acquiring AI startups at the speed of light. This is not surprising considering that many of their new product launches are centered around AI in one way or another. Take Amazon’s Alexa, Google AI or Apple’s Deep Fusion to sharpen pixels in photos. Clearly, AI is hot and holds incredible business potential. It reduces costs of operations, lowers head count and is a fertile source of competitive advantage. However, there is a flipside. Many people find the idea of AI taking over their jobs rather troubling. But before we panic (or get excited) about how AI could change the workforce as we know it today, let’s explore where AI can add most value tomorrow.
According to recent MIT research, the area of prediction is where AI can have most impact. The researchers looked at the so called autonomy of a task in reaching this conclusion,
which is displayed in the figure below. As AI technology will improve and data availability will expand, prediction will be more important in a wider array of tasks. This means that prediction by machines will increasingly take over prediction that used to be handled by humans. Therefore, the authors argue, humans should simply take their hands of predicting tasks. After all, computers will be more accurate, more reliable and more cost-efficient. Instead, humans should leverage their judgement skills. The judgement area of a task will constantly involve changing contexts. As a result, this aspect requires humans to adapt accordingly, and in order to make that work, human judgement will play a crucial role. Does this explain why psychologist only have a 0.4% chance of their jobs being taken over by robots?
Other experts claim that the future workforce will need to develop so-called hybrid skills. This implies that employees need to have a proper understanding of two central aspects: how their jobs were performed in the past and how modern technologies complement this. For example, people in marketing roles now also need to have a thorough understanding of complex analytical tools and data science. Naturally, this means that tasks which are rather simple and can easily be automated, are being taken over by machines at a fast pace. According to this theory, hybrid skills are not necessary in such cases. So, without any doubt, AI will take over jobs. Looking at the bright side, however, it will also create many jobs, which today might still be hard to imagine.
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