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Will AI wipe out human jobs?

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AI is continuing the progress of automation and technology and enhances productivity and possibilities like never before. Businesses will be able to do more with their existing resources, and maybe do more with fewer resources, a fact that puts human capital at risk.

Automation has been embraced by companies for many decades, but automation is not intelligence and there is no doubt that the addition of technologies by companies will allow organizations to rethink their usage of human capital for activities as wide-ranging as call center operations, warehouse activities, trucking and transportation, brick-and-mortar retail, and even mining, oil, and gas activities.

Many make the argument that job losses won’t be felt at the top or bottom of the pay scale, but rather in the middle. There will be less management by humans, and more management by machines and AI colleagues. Collectively these middle-income jobs employ a very large percentage of the population, so this will no doubt have an impact on jobs and the future shape of the workforce.

Most employment is in retail, professional services, healthcare, and government. Hence, it’s no surprise that AI may take a chunk of these jobs. In fact, a workforce adjustment is already being experienced in areas that require human-intensive labor moving paper or bits and bytes around from one place to another. These highly repetitive, regulatory intensive, and error-prone processes jobs are being replaced by computer systems.

The question must be asked though: why do humans move information around when a computer can do just as good a job, especially with the ability to understand the meaning and context of information? Furthermore, while we’re still in the very early days of autonomous vehicles, there’s no question that the future direction of the transportation, warehouse, and logistics industries is rapidly heading to an autonomous future. This calls into question jobs such as that of truck drivers, with autonomous driving trucks starting to emerge in parts of the world.

How can it create jobs?

If you went back in time 20 or 30 years and told someone that they would work as a social media marketer, they would have no idea what you were talking about. Likewise, if you go forward 20 to 30 years there will be whole sectors of the economy and major employers that are not even possible or known today.

Yesterday’s manufacturers are today’s programmers. Yesterday’s secretaries are today’s database administrators. Yesterday’s milkmen are today’s Uber drivers. Indeed, it’s not that those jobs have been created or destroyed, but rather entire job categories are gone and new ones have taken their place. What we’re looking atis not a culling of human capital intensive tasks, but a reimagining of skill sets that we need to be prepared for. Change is inevitable, so brace yourself for the next wave of work.

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