When web browsers were launched in the 90’s, sceptics feared that the advancements would result in mass unemployment as the internet made a number of professions – mail carriers, salespersons, bank tellers, to name a few, – obsolete. However, the rise of the internet gave birth to an entirely new, creative industry, bringing with it a rake of careers that hadn’t existed before. In fact, McKinsey estimate that the internet created 2.4 jobs for every job it took.
As artificial intelligence leads to even more technological innovations, sentiments similar to pre-internet panic have emerged. Many fear that a number of professions that exist now will be obsolete in less than ten years. These concerns are not unfounded – AI expert Kai Fu Lee believes that automation will replace 40% of the world’s current jobs. It is estimated that over 6 million truck drivers in USA alone will be made unemployed within the next 7 years. Positions in medicine, law and manufacturing will be made redundant due to automation. However, there is no need to be fearful.
Automation’s goal is not to make people jobless, but to make the world a more efficient place. AI will see the automation of jobs from taxi drivers to radiographers. The workers affected will not be left jobless, it’s just that the type of work they do – and their roles – will be adjusted. Their input will be fundamental in AI tech, and they’ll develop to perform the functions in their industry that cannot be automated. History is testament to this. Industrialisation has always led to the upskilling of workers as well as endless economic benefits. After the Industrial Revolution, farmers became factory workers who later became factory managers. The AI revolution will be no different. AI will see people leave monotonous menial jobs and start working in more creative positions. We probably cannot define exactly what these roles will be just yet, but AI will cause laborers to shift their thinking to make AI work for them. It’s similar to the car replacing the horse, or the internet transforming so many industries. People just had to adjust their thinking and make these changes work for them which, ultimately, brought more jobs and increased productivity.
AI experts believe that a surge of jobs will be created due to AI – we just cannot imagine them yet. Representatives at Singularity believe that AI will be the “greatest job engine the world has ever seen”. Moreover, Accenture predict that by the end of next year, AI will have already led to a 10% rise in global employment. These claims are not baseless – they are simply taking the natural mechanism of the economy into account.