The robots are coming for our jobs. Or so you might believe if you’ve read any of the volumes of media opinion about the artificial intelligence revolution over the past few years.
But what is the reality of AI and how will it change our working lives?
Fear is understandable, but not rational
Every revolutionary change to the workplace has been greeted with resistance and pessimism. There’s no denying that change is unsettling, but the upheaval often results in something better. The Luddites in 19th century England feared new mill technology would put them out of work, but in reality, it ended up employing more people.
A growing global economy as a result of AI
Data gathered by the consulting company Pricewaterhouse Coopers suggests that $15.7 trillion will be added to global GDP by 2030 as a result of AI. They predict that much of that business value will come from industries who choose to embrace the possibilities of automation rather than companies who manufacture the technology.
Companies that embrace the change are likely to see greater growth than those that don’t. Growing companies become bigger employers, can afford to pay better salaries and contribute more to state coffers in terms of taxation.
Automation will complement human activity, not displace it
The automation of repetitive tasks using technologies such as AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will continue to be rolled out. RPA is already taking over back-office processing and data management.
A growing proportion of customer service queries are already being handled by speech recognition and natural language processing software. In the health sector, smart AI tools are already being applied to diagnosis and areas such as radiology.
The increased use of AI tools in the sector will free up health professionals for front-line care. Education may well see AI setting and marking homework, grading exams and taking charge of administrative work currently undertaken by teachers.
In the hospitality industry, there’s already humanoid robots taking charge of checking guests in.
The coming changes will reward businesses and individuals who embrace them. It might be unsettling, but there’s little to fear.