We have the AI doom mongers who believe that AI will bring the ‘rise of the robots’ and the fall of humanity. We also have the rose tinted view that AI will be for the good of, well, everything and everybody.
As usual, there is a consensus emerging that the truth will be somewhere in between.
Will AI take all the jobs? Who knows in 50 years’ time? But in the next decade or so, the answer has to be a resounding ‘no’.
AI, or the machine learning part of AI, which will be the most important form of AI in the next decade, will create huge numbers of jobs even as it admittedly makes many redundant through automation.
The fact is that the potential of AI is now becoming a business focus. Amongst many buzzwords doing the rounds at the moment, AI has the potential to cut significant cost out of almost any business.
Therefore it will get the attention of the CEO. The conversation in the elevator that goes “So what is our AI strategy?” is happening across the world and across industries. People are on the case and, for once, the business case is pretty easy to conjure up. In telecoms, Vodafone is saying that its chatbot Tobi can answer about 70% of customer inquiries. That must translate into significant cost savings in the customer service operation.
In the short term, AI is creating many jobs and the demand for people who can understand it well enough to drive a company’s strategy is far outstripping the supply. As Reuters recently reported:
“Glassdoor estimates that average salaries for AI-related jobs advertised on company career sites rose 11% between October 2017 and September 2018 to $123,069 annually.”
Add to that people being offered highly paid jobs while they’re still students (and turning them down because Facebook offered them more money) and the short term prospects of AI related activities are looking rosy indeed.
It is early days and mistakes are being made, which of course the press love highlighting. Amazon halted its automated CV scanning process when someone pointed out that there was a bias towards male applicants. This was because the ratio of applicants leant heavily towards men and the AI machine assumed that this bias should be reflected in the outcome.
It is easy and glib to say that machine learning will create more jobs than it will take out, and that we do not know what will happen but we are sure it will be OK in the end.
On current trends, though, it is beginning to look as if we will see a massive uptick in jobs, that AI could make computers proper computers (not just a typewriter for the modern age, to paraphrase Douglas Adams) and that if there are problems with AI becoming ‘dangerous’, it will happen in isolated instances and be quickly fixable.
If in doubt about all this, start searching for courses on how to make a career out of AI.