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Saturday, December 4, 2021
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AI and ML to Displace or Re-purpose Humans

For now, we can say that AI is displacing many jobs as well as re-purposing humans by creating more job opportunities. What remains unclear is how long AI and ML will play catch-up with human job roles.

Machine Learning Dating Back To Early 19th Centuries

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a group of skilled textile workers in Manchester, the East Midlands, and other parts of Britain protested against machines being used in the textile industry, which they saw as a threat to their job; their source of livelihood. The movement of these workers, known as the Luddites, was to show their dissatisfaction with the role of machines during industrialization. 

The years of industrialization saw a lot of manual jobs done by humans easily replaced by machines. The reason for these forms of replacement was because these types of low-skilled jobs have well defined and easy to understand rules and procedures that are not difficult to be codified in software and be carried out by machines.

Early Machines Replacing Human Workers

Tractors replaced human workers in the agricultural and construction sectors, Automated Teller Machines displaced human bank tellers and cashiers, automated security doors replaced human security agents in most institutions, washing machines replaced many dry cleaning job roles, etc.

Similarities To Current Day ML and AI

While this happened generations ago, there seem to be similarities playing out in the current century with innovations prompted by artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML). This has led to debates on the level of use of humans in the workforce and whether AI and ML would displace manpower entirely or repurpose them by creating new job roles.

The events of these centuries expose a common trend: that job automation is not new and that there are rising fears from the masses concerning the security of their jobs.

Fear Of Massive Job Losses By 2030

In a survey by McKinsey Global Institute, examining 10 countries out of which six of them are developed economies and four are from developing economies including China, South Africa, India, and Mexico, “An average of 20 percent of women working today, or 107 million women, could find their jobs displaced by automation, compared with men at 21 percent (163 million) in the period to 2030.” 

Nature Of Jobs Vs Predisposition To Risks

The distribution of job losses according to gender and the nature of jobs also reveals trolling statistics. According to the survey, jobs that generally predispose workers to risks, and some jobs requiring more human contacts like clerical jobs, customer services roles, and job roles as travel agents have more vulnerability of being replaced by AI automation by the 2030 projection.

Three Phases Of Job Vulnerability Due To The ML And AI

A survey by PWC UK categorized the job losses due to automation in three phases up to 2030. According to the survey, 3% of jobs are at potential risk by automation by early 2020, and 30% are vulnerable to being replaced by mid-2030 while 44% of workers with low education could have their jobs substituted by machines by mid-2030.

Consequences Of Job Automation

The consequences of these job automation, if there are no drastic measures by government and industries to fill up the gap created, could have far-reaching social, and psychological consequences even though their uses increase productivity and economic growth.

Besides the fears of many jobs being automated and substituting human roles, there are arguments that such would only repurpose human them. This is because human needs are insatiable and technological innovation appears to be an endless cycle. As jobs are lost to AI machines, technology increases, raising the bar of human needs, expertise, and innovativeness.  

133 Million New Roles Emerging?

The good news according to the World Economic Forum report, indicated that “75 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines, while 133 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms” in the estimated period up to 2022. This projection is made with reference to large multinational employers.

Ability To Boost The Global Economy By $15 Trillion

PWC UK survey also projects that the automation of jobs by AI could boost the global economy with some $15 trillion. While there are only mere projections according to surveys of the level of impact of job automation by AI, experts agree that secure jobs of the future will require high technology and education skills to meet up with the increasing levels of technology at workplaces.

“While these estimates and the assumptions behind them should be treated with caution, not least because they represent a subset of employment globally, they are useful in highlighting the types of adaptation strategies that must be put in place to facilitate the transition of the workforce to the new world of work,” the report added.

Tech Companies And Digital Work Situation

A survey on office workers carried out by UiPath, a leading company in Robotic Process Automation headquartered in New York, involving participants from around the world, reported that almost half of the respondents fear that their jobs could be taken by machines outdating their skills. A staggering 86% of the respondents therefore wish their jobs predisposed them to acquire new skills suited for the dynamic workforce.

Spending Millions On Reskilling And Upskilling Employees

To measure up with rapid changes in skills needed for the evolving job roles, many tech companies are investing millions of dollars to reskill or upskill their employees, turning the workplace into a place of continuing education. 

Amazon, AT&T, Accenture, and JPMorgan Chase are the leading companies training their workers in order to stay relevant in the ever-changing digital work situations. Last year, Amazon budgeted to spend $700 million, in the next six years, in re-training 100 thousand of their U.S. employees in skills like software engineering and IT support. JPMorgan Chase planned to $350 million on a five-year global initiative to reskill and upskill their workers.

AI Creates Or Replaces Human Jobs?

While the workforce seems to be doing well, there are still questions left to be answered in the coming years. Experts agree that AI is creating more jobs than it is replacing human job roles because we advance in technology and needs. AI as we know it is constantly getting improved as it gets richer data. Many years ago, AI was not able to carry out some of the activities it is capable of performing today. Would AI keep playing catch-up with human intelligence and job roles or will it outperform humans and render us irrelevant completely as the AI technology advances?

 

Veronica Ugwu
Veronica Ugwu is a writer for RegTech Global, with her enthusiasm for tech and business.

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