How AI Will Affect The Future Of Work

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With a growing amount of companies automating their processes, fears that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will replace jobs are only increasing. However, many analysts and market experts say that technology isn’t a substitute for people, it’s an enhancement that allows us all to do our jobs better. But just as in the past machinery replaced earlier jobs in farming and for instance more recently the spinning jenny replaced weavers, buttons displaced elevator operators, and the Internet drove travel agencies out of business. 

Every industrial revolution is as much a story of how we organize work as it is of technological invention. Steam engines and stopwatches had been around for decades before Frederick Taylor, the original optimiser, used them to develop the modern factory. 

Working in a late-19th century steel mill, he simplified and standardized each role and wrote detailed instructions on notecards; he timed each task to the second and set an optimal rate. In doing so, he broke the power skilled artisans held over the pace of production and began an era of industrial growth, and also one of exhausting, repetitive, and dangerously accelerating work.

Now, one recent study estimates that about 400,000 jobs were lost to automation in US factories from 1990 to 2007. Currently for many companies, AI represents an exciting opportunity to improve efficiency, increase financial gains and enhance business performance. 

While it’s true that numerous low level tasks will be replaced by robots, there’ll also be a rise in opportunities for highly skilled professionals. Introducing artificial intelligence to cover more basic tasks allows organisations to spend more money on highly skilled resources that can drive impactful change. So while some jobs could be replaced, new jobs that require high level, specialist skills will come into fruition; people and technology will be working together to create a brighter future for technology. However, it’s hard to overlook the growing fear that these tools will also destroy the future of work for many employees. The concern that AI will automate and eliminate jobs has been growing over the years.

AI and machine learning are at the top of many lists of the most important skills in today's job market. Jobs requesting AI or machine-learning skills are expected to increase by 71% in the next five years. AI is no longer just for big organisations and now small and medium businesses are also using the tech to reduce costs, optimise operations, and drive profits.

The global market for AI is projected to grow to nearly $90B by 2025 and so AI could transform the future of work.
AI has the power to affect everything that we do. Already, it’s changing the way that we order products, manage our home, and gather information. According to the World Economic Forum, AI machines handled almost 30% of some work across 12 industries in 2018. 

One Oxford study claimed that around 50% of US workers may see their jobs being automated in the next 20 years. However, although AI tools can definitely supplement human workers and make it easier for them to complete their tasks. There will always be a need for human creativity, innovation, compassion and intuition in the workplace. “John Maynard Keynes’s frequently cited pre-diction of widespread technological unemployment “due to our discovery of means of economising the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labour”.

Artificial Intelligence can do a lot of things, but bots can’t completely replace or imitate human workers. More often than not, these tools will instead be implemented to give more power back to human employees, by automating the tasks that take up too much of their time. What’s more, AI is also creating a slew of new jobs in many areas that weren’t around before. And now STEM, (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), data scientists are incredibly sought-after today, but they barely existed a decade ago and are still in short supply.

While governments and big businesses have been using expensive and complex AI tools for a while now, it is the advent of AI in the world of small and medium businesses that is rewriting the rules of commerce. 

Highly focused AI tools, built and optimised to solve specific sets of business challenges are available to everyone, delivered through the ubiquitous cloud and accessed through smartphones in the pocket of everyone from the CEO to the customer service rep.Small businesses are using AI to solve a slew of problems that were, until recently, simply too complex to manage, too expensive to address or required highly skilled and scarce data-scientist expertise. By next year, 2021, over 60% of searches and data processing tasks will be managed by machines. What’s more, another study from LinkedIn found that more people are adding AI skills to their profiles, highlighting the demand for people with a passion for algorithms.

Of course, a concept with as much power as AI has both positives and negatives to consider. While fans of AI believe it could improve the way we work and empower everyday employees, others feel differently. There’s even a growing debate that AI could destroy the future workplace by eliminating human jobs.

AI also refers to robotic algorithms and machines that can simulate human intelligence. These machines can “learn” by gathering information, use rules for reasoning, and even correct themselves when they make mistakes. 
AI tools can transform the future workplace, by reducing repetitive work, and supporting employees.

Some of the common forms of technology we see AI include:

•    Machine learning: A solution that encourages computers to act without programming assistance or human intervention.

•    Automation: Robotic programming automation tools can perform repeatable high-volume tasks that give humans more time.

•    Natural language process: Natural language processing employs computational techniques for the purpose of learning, understanding, and producing human language content. 

Early computational approaches to language research focused on automating the analysis of the linguistic structure of language and developing basic technologies such as machine translation, speech recognition, and speech synthesis. Today’s researchers refine and make use of such tools in real-world applications, creating spoken dialogue systems and speech-to-speech translation engines, mining social media for information about health or finance, and identifying sentiment and emotion toward products and services. 

Given how AI has been portrayed in the media, in particular in some of our favorite sci-fi movies, it’s clear that the advent of this technology has created fear that AI will one day make human beings obsolete in the workforce. After all, as technology has advanced, many tasks that were once executed by human hands have become automated. 

For the future workplace to be successful, it’s likely that humans and AI will need to work together to encourage positive outcomes. 

The consensus among many experts is that a number of professions will be totally automated in the next five to 10 years. A group of senior-level tech executives who comprise the Forbes Technology Council named 13, including insurance underwriting, warehouse and manufacturing jobs, customer service, research and data entry, long haul trucking and a somewhat disconcertingly broad category titled “Any Tasks That Can Be Learned.” To put it bluntly, AI will be replacing jobs in the future. Workers in industries ranging from healthcare, accounting to agriculture and industrial sectors can all expect to see disruptions in hiring due to AI.

Instead of worrying about the singularity, it might be time to start considering the concept of multiplicity, where combinations of machines and people can work together to create innovations that we couldn’t have possibly imagined before.

AI is definitely here to stay, whether we like it or not. Management now needs to understand how AI will impact their workforces and get them prepared. They need to upskill workers to do existing jobs, but with AI, and retrain and hire others for the new roles that AI will demand. 

Jobs That Robots Already Have And Will Soon Replace 

Over the last few years, robots and computers have made tremendous leaps in their performance and capabilities and have replaced more human jobs. Based on the nature and type of these jobs, here is a rundown of the jobs that AI machines are most likely to perform in the future:

Assembly Line &Factory Workers     Assembly and industrial robots controlled by computers can assemble cars and other products, and were in use since the late 1950s. Today, almost all large manufacturing jobs use robots to make millions of different products efficiently and at a low cost.  

Journalists & Reporters     Many news agencies and websites are already employing the help of computer-assisted writing and information gathering software robots. If you read news stories on the Internet, you have very likely read a story generated by a computer and not a human. As software becomes smarter, it's going to replace even more journalist and reporter jobs. 

Cashiers      As with many jobs requiring only a high school education, cashier positions don't require a high degree of human analysis and can easily be occupied by machines such as self-checkout kiosks. These have already become common in pharmacies and grocery stores, and fast food stores like McDonald’s is adopting them.

Telephone Operators     As with telemarketing, many companies have already switched from human operators to more cost-effective automated ones. Switchboard attendants may even go down as one of the first occupations to be supplanted by robotics; companies began introducing automated attendants in the early 1980s.

Hotel Housekeepers     The robots are watching over hotel housekeepers, telling them which room to clean and tracking how quickly they do it. They’re managing software developers, monitoring their clicks and scrolls and docking their pay if they work too slowly. They’re listening to call center workers, telling them what to say, how to say it, and keeping them constantly, maximally busy. 

Pilots      The United States Military is already using autonomous drones that can conduct surveillance and even attack without the assistance of humans. As these drones become more advanced and capable, they're going to adapt to other fields, such as replacing the pilots of cargo planes used by FedEx, UPS, and other similar companies. There are already companies looking into replacing their fleet of pilots with computer-assisted pilots that could be remotely aided by a few pilots if needed.

Information Gathering, Analysts &d Researchers     Law firms are already replacing paralegals and other staff with e-discovery lawyers and research robots. These robots are capable of combing through millions of documents and discovering relevant facts, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and other information based on keywords.

Customer Service Executives      Customer service executives don’t require a high level of social or emotional intelligence to perform. Many companies now rely on AI to answer FAQs and customer support questions. Chatbots are not only becoming a significant part of customer interaction. They also support a lot of internal queries, among others.

Bookkeeping & Data Entry     There is a chance you may not have heard of bookkeeping as a profession in a long time. Instead of using humans for data entry and bookkeeping, it makes sense for AI and ML (Machine Learning) to be introduced in the product cycle.

Receptionists     And with auto check-ins in both large and small hotels, there will be a lesser need for receptionists in the long run. Nowadays, even in fast food joints, people can place orders through communication screens or tabs. With AI’s introduction, there is a good chance that robots can handle ordering and other related functions.

Proofreading     While editing is a more complex job in terms of tonality, comprehension, and others, proofreading is much simpler. Detecting grammatical mistakes, sentence construction, and other errors can easily be automated through different apps. For example, Grammarly is one of the most famous apps that professionals use for this purpose.

Manufacturing & Pharmaceutical Work   This sector is probably the most extensive area where people are scared that AI will take over jobs. When the production process for most commodities produced today has been mechanised, the operational aspect can also be handled by AI.  Robots could replace as many as 2 million more workers in manufacturing alone by 2025, according to a recent paper by economists at MIT and Boston University. “This pandemic has created a very strong incentive to automate the work of human beings,” says Daniel Susskind, a fellow in economics at Balliol College, University of Oxford, and the author of A World Without Work: Technology, Automation and How We Should Respond. “Machines don’t fall ill, they don’t need to isolate to protect peers, they don’t need to take time off work.”

Even in pharmaceutical labs, robots can work together with scientists providing a much safer environment. Scientists will no longer be putting their lives less at risk.

Retail Services     Automated services have replaced people who carry out the way sales. From several merchants focussing on self-ordering and payment options, AI can very quickly be involved as well.
Robots are replacing retailer jobs in many shopping conglomerates to understand customers’ patterns. Moreover, the advanced data analysis of AI machines shows other products that customers might be interested in in the future.

Courier Services      AI has introduced many social and economic changes to the delivery industry. It has streamlined various logistics and supply chain functions. Drones and robots are already taking over courier services. Aside from the manufacturing industry, the transport sectors will be most affected when robotic automation booms in the future years.

Doctors     We are already witnessing robot-surgeons perform critical operations worldwide, and it’s only a matter of time before they completely replace us. Robotic doctors will make more accurate and effective treatments for the patients compared to their human counterparts. There is also less chance of infection due to more sterile measures and no room for human error.

Soldiers      Military professionals are sure that future battlefields will consist of robots that can follow orders without constant supervision. Robots are significantly being used in military operations for various tasks such as surveillance, intelligence, and many more. Thirty thousand “robot soldiers” could form an integral part of the British army in the 2030s, working alongside humans in and around the frontline, the head of the armed forces said in a television interview on Sunday. British Army General Sir Nick Carter said the armed forces needed “to think about how we measure effects in a different way”, and he called on the government to proceed with the previously promised five-year integrated defence review.

All Britain’s armed forces have been engaged in a string of research projects involving small drones or remotely powered land or underwater vehicles, some of which are armed and others for reconnaissance.

Taxi & Bus Drivers     There is a very high chance that this sector will become completely automated. Self-driving cars are already here, and it won’t be long before fully autonomous vehicles take over us.

Market Research Analysts    Research analysts are crucial for every organisation. They conduct market research to increase the performance of their business. AI-enabled robots are gaining popularity in this sector because of the comprehensive data that they provide.

Security Guards     AI has made substantial advancements in the field of physical security. For example, Yelp’s security robot can inspect a building with its high-definition camera. It also has a directional mic and infrared sensor that can detect any suspicious activity.  

AI will take on many tasks that humans are doing now. But whether this will result in job losses or greater individual productivity, or both, will depend on a wide range of factors, primarily how both employers and employees react to this change. Also schools and parents will also have to teach children both STEM skills and a culture of creativity and lifelong learning.

Future Forward

The increasing adoption of automation, AI, and other technologies will eliminate some jobs, they will create many others. Governments, companies, and individuals all need to understand these shifts when they plan for the future.
Governments and management should have a central workforce strategy and policy unit in place to understand the current trends in workforce supply and demand; identify the gaps that exist in certain jobs, sectors, and skills; and predict the measures that will be needed to close those gaps. 

Specific resources include advanced-analytics models to predict changes over time and sufficiently granular sources of data that can generate insights into various regions, sectors, and demographics. 

Furthermore, the findings should be translated into strategic directions that are then implemented in specific policies and programs across government departments, including education, welfare, labor, and economics. As countries and organisations prepare to meet the demands of the digital age, they must understand the challenges that lie ahead. This means making use of more sophisticated analytical models to predict supply and demand in the labor market and integrating them into the foundation of their workforce strategies. 

It also means focusing on managing the transition to a future workforce so that the economic and social friction associated with the mismatch of supply and demand is minimised.

If you would like more information about your industry please contact Cyber Security Intelligence for advice and recommendations. 

References:  

Oxford Martine Schoool:       RingCentral:        Science.org:       Forbes:       Fast Company:      BuiltIn:     PWC:     

Venturebeat:     BCG:        Computer Futures:     Saviom:     Guardian:   Time:     The Verge:   Computerhope

 

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