The growing adoption of and investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI) has created for some an ominous scenario where robots and automation eliminate the need for humans in the workplace. The reality is likely to be quite the opposite – in part because these fears of AI rely on a fallacy that the number of jobs in an economy is fixed.
In reality, AI is creating new jobs – roles for those with the skills to analyze data, solve problems and use the power of AI to make better decisions. In its “Future of Jobs Report 2020,” the World Economic Forum estimates that AI will create 97 million new jobs across 26 countries by 2025 – 12 million more than the 85 million jobs expected to be displaced. These roles are expected to be more productive and more creative and, in return, have the potential to produce more economic value employers and, ultimately, greater satisfaction and wealth for employees.
The impact of this new kind of job can be seen in how AI is driving future economic projections. According to PwC’s Global Artificial Intelligence Study, AI will lead to an estimated $15.7 trillion, or 26 percent, increase in global GDP by 2030. The economic impact has been identified by business leaders around the world. According to PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey, 63 percent of CEOs believe AI will have a larger impact on the global economy than the internet.
A Positive Impact
Artificial Intelligence – and the new jobs it is creating – is already having an impact across industries. Consider, for example, how advanced computing helped speed-up the COVID-19 vaccine trials, providing more streamlined, organized data for scientists and regulators to analyze in a shortened time period. With improved data and a more efficient analysis by trained data scientists, pharmaceutical companies were able to deliver vaccines in record time.
Emerging technologies like AI have also created a major shift in the retail industry. While chatbots and automated check-out systems have replaced some traditional human jobs, retailers are now using AI
to learn more about their customers and provide special promotions and deals to drive loyalty. Workers who can analyze the massive amounts of customer data are playing a critical role in ensuring the right promotions are pushed to the right customers, not only lowering customer acquisition costs but also creating a positive shopping consumer experience.
New Skills Needed
The shift in job focus means workers need to develop new skills to meet the technical demands of working with AI platforms, while also fulfilling the tasks that robots and other machines simply cannot do. Companies will be looking for IT professionals with experience in specific areas of AI, such as natural language processing and the ability to connect AI with business priorities to make processes more efficient.
Beyond the technical skills, it will be important for employees to have strong critical thinking and emotional intelligence. These skills will be in high demand. Machines can’t easily replicate our ability to connect with other humans emotionally. Likewise, people with critical thinking skills can use logic and reasoning to come up with innovative ideas and solve complex problems without relying solely on data. Humans have an amazing and complex ability to create, invent and dream.
Employers are already starting to implement new training programs, both on the technical and personal levels. In the retail sector, Amazon and other leading companies have begun retraining programs to help workers develop new skills for the AI era. At SK Group we have also been leading the way on this front, announcing a partnership last year with Microsoft to integrate the Microsoft Learn virtual academy into its mySUNI training platform to develop employees into AI and digital transformation experts.
The adoption of AI and what it can unleash represents great opportunities for companies to expand, rather than retract. We know this because we’ve seen similar technology fears and shifts before. We have witnessed how these new technologies enhanced economies, created opportunities and improved lives overall. Ultimately, the adoption of AI is not a zero-sum game or a dystopia to be feared. Instead, AI is the next milestone technology that will reshape and expand the workplace in ways that no one can fully imagine.