For the last year or two, many pundits have said AI and automation will result in substantial job losses in many sectors. While we've seen widespread automation in the automotive industry and other manufacturing sectors, we're starting to see the advent of AI moving into white collar jobs. Someone even trained some AI to write a chapter for a new Harry Potter book. But Gartner says our fears are unfounded as AI is likely to create, rather than destroy jobs.
Svetlana Sicular, research vice president at Gartner, said, "Many significant innovations in the past have been associated with a transition period of temporary job loss, followed by recovery, then business transformation and AI will likely follow this route".
History strongly suggests that what we will see is a shift. The cycle starts with people doing a job. Then someone invents a way to use a new technology to remove the human from the job, citing increased efficiency and better safety as the reasons in many cases. So, the humans are pushed out of those roles. But the technology needs to be developed, maintained and improved, thus creating new but very different jobs.
Gartner's research says AI-related job creation will cross into positive territory in the next couple of years, reaching two million net-new jobs in 2025. In other words, we are currently in the early part of the transformation, where the tech is replacing people but the next few years will see us move into the later phase where different jobs will be created.
"Unfortunately, most calamitous warnings of job losses confuse AI with automation — that overshadows the greatest AI benefit — AI augmentation — a combination of human and artificial intelligence, where both complement each other," Sicular adds.
For most of the last four decades, Australia's unemployment rate has hovered between the 5% to 6%. In that time, we've seen increasing automation, the evolution of the Internet, offshoring and other employment shifts. But we always seem to find ways to take advantage of the innate skills humans have that technology can't emulate or replace.
This will require changes to be made in how businesses operate and, if they want to keep their workforce happy, require companies to engage in better staff education and development.
In the mean time, Skynet is not going to start its quest for global domination by taking our jobs.