Investment in Artificial Intelligence has grown in recent years following advances in Deep Learning, graphics processing power and the wider adoption of open source technologies in businesses. The internet has been a major contributor to the growth of AI datasets that are needed to train neural networks. AI already plays an important part of lives today from job searching, social media, shopping online, down to the maps we use to find our way while driving.

Businesses are increasingly applying narrow forms of AI or automation to their workflows (AI that is trained for a specific task). The compounding effect is the way people work is expected to change significantly. There are pros and cons of introducing automation to a business process, consultants argue businesses should refine a workflow before automating it to reap the benefits [1]. Inevitably this will mean human workers roles will change. There are advantages to this, the human worker may find automation will free up time for more unique complex tasks that keep them engaged. The current generation of AI is suited for repetitive tasks that often bog employees down from what people may consider ‘more meaningful work’ [2].

It does however mean the current generation of workers may have to retrain to adapt to a new role in their organisation. Or if the organisation automates the entire workflow they may become unemployed. Workers from a non-technical background could struggle to adapt in this circumstance and may require assistance in retraining for a new role [3].

A PwC study suggests AI may create as many jobs as it displaces [4][5], however it will create a cultural shift on the types of skills that will be desired in a post-AI world. We will be living in an augmented world where we will collaborate alongside AI/automated systems. This can make us more efficient in the work we do.

China’s large trained workforce has enabled it to become one of the main manufacturing hubs of the world. It has become a proponent of AI and is introducing AI into many aspects of public interactions and is described as an AI powerhouse comparable to US tech companies according to Kai-Fu Lee [6].

The Paper an online publisher in China announced the country’s Education department has planned a 10 volume series of AI textbooks for it’s primary and secondary school students [7].

It demonstrates that China recognises the changing nature of work in the post AI age and is investing in it’s younger generations to make them competitive in the new age of AI.

I personally believe AI will affect the way people work all over the world. In my opinion, to make sure our future generations are prepared for working alongside AI systems and robotics. Our education providers should also evaluate what the future of work will look like with research into this area and begin leveraging emerging technologies e.g. AI, VR, AR as part of the syllabus if proven to help. We should evaluate what can be done so the adults of tomorrow will have an opportunity to succeed and no one is left behind in this fourth industrial revolution.

Updated: 12/2019 – References (APA 6th) and minor edits for clarity

References

  1. Enginess. (2018, October 10). Why You Should Improve Business Processes Before Automating Them. Retrieved from https://www.enginess.io/insights/improve-business-processes-before-automating
  2. Daugherty, P. R., & Wilson, H. J. (2018). Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI. US: Harvard Business Review Press.
  3. Accenture. (2018). Getting worked up with AI: Reimagining the role of humans. Retrieved from https://www.accenture.com/gb-en/insights/consulting/reskilling-workforce
  4. BBC (2018, July 17). AI will create as many jobs as it displaces – report. BBC News. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44849492
  5. PwC. (2018, July 17). AI will create as many jobs as it displaces by boosting economic growth. Retrieved from https://www.pwc.co.uk/press-room/press-releases/AI-will-create-as-many-jobs-as-it-displaces-by-boosting-economic-growth.html
  6. Lee, K. F. (2019). AI Superpowers. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  7. Xiaorong, H. (2018, November 20). Title Translation: The first set of artificial intelligence textbooks in the country will enter Elementary and High Schools next year, and will be welcomed by students in Shanghai. The Paper. Retrieved from https://thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_2652113