June 27, 2018 at 7:17 pm #2185
Advances in technology have long been a source of fear for workers of the world, from the steam engine to the 19th century to Luddites that destroyed machinery in English cotton mills.These disruptive innovations sparked concerns from people who were worried that their jobs would cease to exist after these new developments were implemented in industry.
The looming spectre of automation
In this digital era, the target in question is automation and the effect it may have on the global jobs market. Increasingly powerful computers, the penetration of the internet in our daily lives, artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT) devices are all pointing to automation being the next key factor that will transform the working world.
So, will it be disastrous, creating mass unemployment, further driving social and economic inequality, and erasing entire industries? Or, will it herald a new era with less drudgery and grunt work across everything from farming to healthcare? The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Looking to the future
According to PwC’s recent Workforce of the Future report, the AI trajectory comprises three levels.
The first is where we are today, with assisted intelligence automating repetitive, standardised tasks. The second is emerging as augmented intelligence, which is human-machine collaboration in decision-making processes. The future, and the area that concerns the public the most, will be autonomous intelligence. Adaptive continuous intelligent systems will take over some decision-making, putting the very concept of humans doing some jobs into question.
Will robots take your job? A new survey by the OECD offers some clues. It reports that 14% of jobs in 32 countries have at least a 70% chance of being automated. For another 32% of jobs, that probability hovers between 50% and 70%. This puts 210m jobs at risk in OECD countries alone. Rich-country workers appear less at risk than those in middle-income states: Globally, jobs in Slovakia are twice as vulnerable as those in Norway. But wide gaps exist even between countries of similar wealth, writes the PwC data team.
PwC’s Bot.Me report issued in 2017 shows that automation is going to play a major part in companies transforming their current practices. Indeed, 72% of those surveyed believe AI will be the key advantage in the future of business – there’s no getting away from it.
Reducing grunt work
Gerard McDonough, director of people and organisation at PwC Ireland, said: “If you think about it, in a data-driven consumer world, you’re going to want to move the AI and the RPA [robotic process automation] in to take over some of the tasks that can relieve the talent you have, allowing them to get more involved in value-add work.”
The Bot.Me report also found that 70% of business leaders agree that AI has the potential to enable humans to concentrate on more meaningful work as well as enjoy more leisure activity.
McDonough maintains that AI and automation will have a positive effect on the workplace but the secret is in how employers talk about implementing these technologies with teams. “It’s got to be about how organisations communicate with their workforce, so they can come comfortably up to speed with what the new world of work is like, and that they share that openly with them.” A cloak-and-dagger approach to automation from employers won’t go down well with employees.
Will there be enough jobs?
Many people are worried that there won’t be enough jobs in talent-short areas, such as cybersecurity and software development, to truly offset job losses caused by automation. According to McDonough, not enough attention is being paid to the job creation prospects a thriving digital economy will unveil.
Static job roles may become a thing of the past, with an adaptable workforce and employers that increasingly value flexibility. The jobs we have now may well not exist in future but it’s not as though they won’t be replaced by new and more interesting jobs.
McDonough explained how the changes will likely play out: “Will we still be hiring graduate accountants in 10 years? Yes. Will it still be the same volume? No. Will that be assisted by robots that are able to audit a set of accounts or look through an inventory of numbers? Absolutely.”
It’s not a question of offsetting so much as adapting, he explained. “I think you’re just going to see people to be in new jobs that none of us have considered yet. It’s less about the jobs to my mind than it is about the bundle of skills.”
Multi-skilled workers in the future will be ready as AI, robotics, geopolitical risk and other megatrends develop and change.
Adaptation, adaptation, adaptation
According to the OECD report on Automation and Independent Work in a Digital Economy, there will continue to be a high premium placed on having the cognitive skills to solve non-standard problems. The OECD took a task-based approach in its report, analysing the content of the individual jobs a worker carries out in a day rather than the average task content in each occupation or field.
by Ellen Tannam: https://www.siliconrepublic.com/careers/automation-jobs-ai-future
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