The current debate about whether artificial intelligence (AI) will make humans’ jobs redundant is not settled yet as there aren’t any definite answers about the future. However, the broad consensus in the tech industry is that AI doesn’t spell doomsday scenario for traditional jobs. What it is likely to do is change the roles and the way humans work. Many even argue that AI and automation will not just reduce jobs, it will increase the number of jobs – just change the nature of the tasks we do. One way or the other, everybody agrees that AI as a tech is disruptive.
Research on tech and job disruption
For now, there has been a general rise of tech jobs and skills as well as a concurrent increase in human-centric jobs. Besides, while a lot of resource and investment is going into AI and new technologies worldwide, so is the widespread research going on on how it will ultimately impact employment and human activity. Studies and reports consist of a wide variety of opinion, ranging from a dystopian landscape where millions are left unemployed, to new opportunities for enterprise and fruitful occupation.
Scores of organisations like the World Economic Forum based in Davos, the US’ MAPI Foundation (Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, IT multinationals Accenture, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Cognizant, McKinsey, etc. have been studying the impact of artificial intelligence on jobs, the employees and what companies must do to prepare for the changing scenario. Some studies have found that introduction of AI into the manufacturing value chain will create new hybrid roles in which humans will enable machines, and AI will augment human capabilities. Other research findings suggest that the next five years will see a major growth in manufacturing with the help of AI-enabled machine vision machine learning, in factories as well as throughout the supply chain. This in turn will lead to creation of many new types of AI-related jobs in manufacturing.
Jobs that may become obsolete
Jobs or tasks that are repetitive and routine are likely to be taken over by automation and can be done cheaply by robots or algorithms. Many manual jobs have a low risk of being automated given they are not routine, even if they don’t require high levels of formal education.
Jobs that are not likely to exist beyond 5-10 years include:
Telemarketers — Repetitive nature of talk and low sales conversion rate.
Receptionists — Automated call and scheduling systems are equally efficient.
Travel agents – Travel websites and aggregators are compelling.
Cashiers – Self-service options for payments at retail outlets.
Bookkeeping clerks – Keeping a record of all financial transactions is already being done by computers, hence this job might be eased out in the age of AI.
Bank tellers — Moving away from cash to cashless transactions.
Sports referees and umpires – Sensors more accurate at detecting fouls and errors.
Jobs that AI can’t do
There are plenty of jobs and tasks that are non-routine, defined by their complexity and non-standardisation. Many jobs require uniquely human qualities like communication, empathy, creativity, strategic thinking, questioning, and dreaming – generally known as soft skills. These are hard for AI to replicate and automate.
Some jobs that are unlikely to be automated are:
Human resource managers – As the name suggests, an HR job involves reasoning a lot of skills.
Sales managers – Requires high-level skills to network with customers and collaborate with sales team.
Marketing managers – Needs sharp mind to change strategies to adapt to market trends.
PR managers – Human touch can’t be replaced in communication, persuasion.
CEOs — Complex role of representing companies’ objectives, and interacting with employees, customers, boards of directors, other stakeholders
Writers – Needs ideating and creating original material at all times.
Software developers – High-level skills needed to develop software, apps and websites. Tough to replicate by technology and machines.
Graphic designers – This demands too much of creative thinking and sense of aesthetics for machines to do. It might have to remain in human hands.
New job roles AI can create
While AI might indeed take over tasks that can be easily automated, there will remain tasks that only human workers will be able to do and machines won’t – like randomised multi-tasking etc. In any case, AI is likely to create new jobs that don’t exist now. Some of such speculative job roles include:
Data detective – Anybody with some basic data skills and knowledge of law would be able to interpret what the big data collected is telling us, what more information can be gleaned from it. Specialist doing this sort of data deciphering will be needed to make best use of information.
Business development manager for AI – One new job we humans will have to do for AI: that of promoting it. Selling AI in a packaged form to a business will always need a human input.
Traffic regulators – This could be a totally new job role. Cities in the future are likely to need the services of persons capable of planning, monitoring and controlling road and air space based on AI platforms.
Smart city analyst — Smart cities are being planned. When they do come up smart city analysts will be required to keep the technology employed in working order, much like a telephone linesman of today.
Man-machine intermediary – This important role will keep machines and people work together, by helping to create synergy between the new collaborative work force.
Money managers – These persons will keep track of your finances at a time when transactions become totally cashless and digital currency takes over. People will be to busy to fully understand digital transactions but their money manager will, and do his job of saving money diligently. Will be needed by both, individuals and businesses.
AR travel guide – These guides will creatively plan out, design and create vacation or business journeys for clients in augmented reality.
In the debate about whether AI will destroy jobs or create more job opportunities, the truth perhaps lies somewhere in-between the two scenarios. It is not realistic to believe that AI will not disrupt any jobs. It will indeed replace some, make some common jobs more data-driven, effective and easier, and also create a whole bunch of new jobs. All in all, any path breaking technology or invention will disrupt in the short term, but has proved to be beneficial in the long term.