According to a recent McKinsey report, by 2030 up to 800 million jobs worldwide could be lost to automation. In the US, the figure is likely to be 39 to 73 million jobs, or around one-third of the workforce. The report sees “a rich mosaic of potential shifts in occupations in the years ahead, with important implications for workforce skills and wages.” Importantly, “while there may be enough work to maintain full employment to 2030 under most scenarios, the transitions will be very challenging.”
With automation providing compelling benefits for users and businesses, a workplace transition is inevitable. But what tools will you require to successfully navigate this exciting future?
While many jobs will cease to exist, and all work will be completely redefined, one of the biggest advantages people seem to forget they have over a machine is their humanity. Simply put, there are skills that are beyond even the most advanced artificial intelligence – for example, emotional intelligence. According to the World Economic Forum, emotional intelligence is set to “become one of the top skills needed by all,” as it’s not something you can teach a robot. By comparison, the abilities to negotiate and be flexible are going to be far less important “as machines, using masses of data, begin to make our decisions for us.” It’s a case of identifying what skills you bring that no computer or algorithm can successfully recreate.
Cheaper Goods Create Employment
It may seem counter-intuitive that having machines create our goods could ultimately fuel further employment – after all, if a robot is doing a job, that necessitates a human not having one. However, as has been shown throughout history, improved automation leads to prices falling, which leads to greater spending, thus creating more demand and new jobs. Deloitte gives the example of grooming services: “In 1871, there was 1 hairdresser/barber for every 1,793 citizens in England and Wales; today there is one for every 287.” As life has grown more affordable, people have had enough disposable income to spend money on services that would have seemed frivolous if they were living in poverty. Greater automation will make life cheaper, increasing demand and thus creating jobs.
The End of Mundane Tasks
Ultimately, the kind of tasks that are going to be performed by machines and AI are the ones that people would probably rather not be doing in the first place. Dr. Don Perugini, co-founder of AI company Presagen, explained in Revolver that his own staff were far more productive as a result of increased automation in the office: “An example is our former staff’s productivity was 70 percent. They were spending 30 percent on all these mundane administrative tasks that they just didn’t want to do, filling out timesheets and so forth. AI can easily take over those specific tasks for people, and we can become a lot more productive, and people may actually enjoy their jobs more.” At the end of the day, automation is dramatically changing employment, and change tends to be daunting. But if the outcome is cheaper goods, more jobs and more enjoyable work, perhaps this is a change we should embrace.