Artificial Intelligence (AI) will ignite the next industrial revolution. While the advantages of AI are obvious in the workplace, it can be assumed that their impact on the employment situation will be almost gloomy in the short term. But this view is too strong and needs to be redrawn. I will explain why the development of employment and jobs in the next 20 years could be smoother and far more interesting than had previously been assumed.
Presently, AI is on everyone’s lips at the workplace. Here is the short version of the story:
The more AI evolves, the more universal it will be used by companies to replace people with even more tasks. Auto-driving vehicles will not only make human drivers superfluous but become a dangerous option. Chatbots are in the process of becoming much more efficient customer consultants than people could ever be. An AI device can detect cancer on CT-scans already better today than a human radiologist.
In the ideal case, displaced workers will retrain and find alternative employment. But, as expected, the total number of jobs will probably fall. Legions of the unhappy ones will fight hard to get a new job and they will slip into an underprivileged condition.
If the purpose of AI is to make full-time jobs superfluous, this utopia seems to be much faster than society can adapt.
THE PRODUCTIVITY PROBLEM
However, this story has a weak spot. If AI leads to unprecedented economic growth as a result of productivity gains of up to 40%, economic growth in the US is projected to rise from 2.6% to 4.6% in 2035. Who will then consume all the additional products if many can no longer afford them?
Fortunately, this question could turn out to be a problem that enforces its own solution. Businesses cannot thrive if the supply exceeds demand. Therefore, the time that society needs to adapt to the new paradigm may prove unacceptable to both the companies themselves and their repressed employees, if proactive measures are not taken for a sustainable use of AI. These measures will not only be necessary to prevent unemployed workers drifting into misery but also to ensure that there are always enough customers to purchase the additional goods and services produced by AI.
MAKING “SMART” INVESTMENTS
Looking at AI through the lens of sustainability, there are a number of interesting investment opportunities, but it also shows which companies should investors keep away.
The most attractive companies will be companies that pursue a clearly defined AI sustainability agenda within the framework of their corporate social responsibility program.
These are those who have recognized both the potential socio-economic benefits and the dangers of AI’s proliferation and have decided to take advantage of the benefits and minimize the dangers. Such agendas include measures for the responsible introduction of AI. These include the prioritization of applications that bring not only cost savings, but also a clear benefit to customers, the throttling of the pace of the introduction of AI to allow workers, businesses, and society to adapt to change, and the implementation of displacement and retraining programs for displaced workers.
Then there are those companies that will continue to employ employees despite the advancement of AI. As AI takes over the burden of the administration, workers can be mobilized and used, for example, in jobs where they support our aging population emotionally. Medical and social care will focus more on the physical and mental needs of patients. Financial services will focus on human relationships. The opportunity to attach greater importance to the education system and bring about a profound change in this area cannot be regarded as important enough.
A new society is emerging
When it comes to a new educational focus, turning to creativity will be a central part of the puzzle.
Learning to be creative can not only improve IQ, academic performance, and verbal skills but also fundamentally change the way we see the world. And if society succeeds in moving towards the new AI paradigm, the creative focus will prepare the new generation for a completely new work landscape.
No one really knows when and how this disruption will truly affect our society and workforce on a large scale but as the saying goes
Where there`s smoke, there`s fire