The Big Question in AI
Never has a technology held so much promise to the future of humanity and yet create so much anxiety among us.
Yes, I am talking about Artificial Intelligence and its related counterpart Machine Learning also known as advanced logarithm. The world already embracing the dawn of AI and its application is prevalent in our daily lives from banking, online shopping, movie bingeing to hailing a ride. The benefits of AI are well documented and its potential almost limitless restrained only by the limits of our imagination.
Yet the million-dollar question remains. Is AI going to cause massive job losses and lead to social upheavals. Will your job be secure in tomorrow’s world in an age of digital disruption hasten by AI adoption?
Technology has always enabled humanity to do more with less. Unleashing productivity to accelerate progress. Every major technology breakthrough has brought only growth and better standards of living. This holds true from the invention of electricity, the invention of the steam engine and the industrial revolution.
In an article by The Guardian, technology has created more jobs than it destroyed in a study that is based on 140 years of data. The study finds the rise of machines has been a job creator rather than making humans obsolete.
To dive deeper, in a Mckinsey report, research finds while 45 percent of tasks are automatable, only five percent of overall jobs has been replaced by automation. AI systems capabilities at this stage are very task oriented and excel in very specifically defined ways.
There are still many barriers to AI adoption including cost, organization culture, legal regulations and social resistance.
Let’s look at the widely discussed topic on the rise of autonomous vehicles and the disruption it will cause to truck drivers in the US. Today there are roughly 1.7 million truck drivers in the US and many people believe that their job will be at risk. The truth is that trucking jobs will require many years to replace. In another McKinsey article by the New York Times, it states that the replacement and retrofitting of America’s truck fleet with autonomous navigation systems will require a trillion-dollar investment that will tax even the largest Fortune 500 firms. Even if they have the will and budget to carry this out, the technology is still quite far away from approval for commercial and private use. Recent high-profile accidents have thrown a spanner into these technology from mass adoption.
Many developed countries including Singapore have challengers in raising productivity. In a Straits time article on a study found that an average Singaporean worker spend roughly 380 hours a year on completing administrative or repetitive tasks. This is the equivalent of 47.5 work days or 2 months of the working year! This loss in productivity is costing Singapore service industry alone of more than 36.5 billion annually.
The opportunity is for AI to augment not replace the humanity in order to bring forth greater economic growth and social benefits. If repetitive and mundane jobs could be outsourced to AI, then humans can devote their time to task that needs judgement, communication and creative thinking that often involves multiple area of disciplines/knowledge. Eliminating boring jobs that employee dislikes can improve morale and interest as they take on more rewarding work. A report from the World Economic Forum using a sample representing 15 million workers, it found that AI could cause a decline of 0.98 million job and gain 1.74 million as new roles are rapidly expanding to support these new disruptive technologies.
The internet and mobile technology revolutions have created far more jobs then they destroyed. AI will have the same effects and the potential to create many higher paying job opportunities and bring exponential growth for forward looking organizations. These new opportunities in the digital economy needs new skillsets, mindsets and knowledge from the individual employee and an informed management and company culture from organizations. Question is are you and your organization future ready? Do you have the right ingredients to take advantage of these disruptions to be the next market leader?