From series like the Avengers telling us how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can take over the world to pessimists warning that AI is the most dangerous form of technological disruption, such technophobic views push across the idea that robots and algorithms take away your jobs. There are also those who like to highlight how AI automates routine physical tasks and overpowers humans by way of their intellectual capacity and speed of performance. 

This dread takes you back to every epoch in history when innovation hit the world – the four industrial revolutions. Each time a revolutionary concept threatened to overturn the status quo and usher in phenomenal change, there was widespread fear-mongering. However, this automation angst and freak out about the rise of AI overlords is an over-hyped phenomenon that simply feeds the human anxiety of survival and jobs. While automation may take away some jobs as immediate fallout, but it also gives rise to other job roles that were non-existent before. Besides, there are roles that automation may not find heavy use. For instance, a robot cannot replace the warmth of a health caregiver. The phenomenal costs of building a robot notwithstanding, can we have robots replacing the 118.7 million farmers in India? 

The overreaching narrative is largely built around AI robots that do not find common use in India, except in large scale manufacturing and IIoT. In India, AI finds the widest application in AI engines that reap the benefits of customer satisfaction and customer growth like B&FS, health, and e-commerce.

Having busted the myth of automation being a job-killer, let us explore the truth behind AI and jobs. 

Does AI take away human jobs or is it the other way around? 

All industry reports point to AI being the greatest job engine of the world 

According to The Future of Jobs 2018 Report by the World Economic Forum, although machines and algorithms are expected to displace 75 million jobs by 2022, they are also expected to create 133 million new roles, thus creating more than 58 million net new jobs in the next few years. It further states that 54% of employees of large companies need to up-skill to fully exploit these growth opportunities. Only a few large companies will be investing in training the employees in key roles. However, it is generally expected that IT professionals re-train and up-skill on their own to stay relevant and hold on to their jobs. The report also mentions that some industries and regions are likely to face higher demand for retrained professionals, with India being one of the countries in Asia predicted to witness a steep growth. 

The PwC AI Analysis – Sizing the Prize Report reaffirms that AI, robotics and smart automation technologies will create greater economic benefits. These technologies are expected to contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global GDP by 2030, recording a 14% rise. The PwC Report lists how AI is a game-changer in sectors like retail, financial services, technology, automotive, transportation & logistics, energy, manufacturing, and healthcare as AI technology increases productivity, product quality, and consumption. The near-term (0-3 years) rise in adoption opportunity in these sectors ranges from 35% in automotive to a high 54% in Retail. What does this mean? The huge growth in AI jobs all over the world!

Taking the India perspective, according to the PwC AI in India Report, while the initiation of automation and the implementation of AI in organizations have caused concerns regarding displaced jobs; the long-term benefits of leveraging AI in businesses outdo such concerns. AI adoption across industries and scenarios create higher value-involvement opportunities and consequent shift from traditional jobs to more evolved roles. This is evident from the slew of AI-driven jobs and job roles posted on job sites. The steep salaries also tell their own tales that are totally out of sync with the AI naysayer-speak. 

The Accenture Report elaborates on the AI job scope. It predicts that higher AI investment will boost revenues and employment opportunities across various industries from 38 to 50 percent between 2018 and 2022. This graph below illustrates the potential increase in employment across some key industries.

Source: Accenture Future Workforce Study 2017

[The Accenture Reworking the Revolution Report]

According to Glassdoor estimates, the average salaries for AI-related jobs advertised on company sites, rose 11 percent between October 2017 and September 2018 to $123,069 annually. This is good news for job seekers with AI skills, as it indicates a job seeker’s market. 

Major placement company, ZipRecruiter secured funds worth $1.5 Billion for its AI-driven hiring. Are you still wondering where the AI jobs are?

How can AI be a job creator?

Consider businesses operating in high AI adoption sectors like technology, automotive, banking, finance, e-commerce, retail, and media.

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These industries are on a fast-growth trajectory marked with intense competition for a business edge and shareholder confidence. To move ahead and capitalize on industry opportunities, businesses will deploy AI for innovation and differentiation. No sector or business today can resist the impact of AI. Core business processes are being redefined as AI has the potential to transform customer experiences. 

In such a scenario, companies are not only investing in technology and data but also the AI talent that makes use of all that data for business growth. What we are witnessing across India is a radical change to organizational structures and processes, as Applied Artificial Intelligence gains traction, with focus on end-to-end process automation.

Let us examine how AI creates new job roles.

A. Tasks and skills are reconfigured to generate more job roles – Tasks are reconfigured to create specialized multi-skilled and insight-driven job roles.  For instance, let’s consider the introduction of an AI chatbot on a company website. This may reduce the number of 9 to 5 o’clock customer care representatives, but it will also generate more job roles, both, in IT and non-IT. A dedicated team, either in-house or belonging to an ITES partner, will work on perfecting the language and intuitive (NLP, ML) capabilities of the chatbot. The increase in sales and product queries stemming from a 24/7 customer support will mean more employees are engaged in handling these queries and sales follow-ups.

B. Skills are mapped to new business models – Customer satisfaction, product and process efficiencies are at the core of current business models. Thus, high levels of technical skills are being mapped to these emerging AI-driven roles and systems. In the banking industry, fraud management and regulatory requirements top the priority scale. AI is the most time-proven and robust method for fraud identification, enabling red-flagging a transaction for the timely prevention of frauds. With the FATF task force coming down heavily on banks defaulting on Money Laundering/Terrorist Financing regulations, banks are investing heavily in AI talent and expertise. Herein, emerging regulations are the driving force behind the relentless AI adoption in both banking practices and Fintech/Regtech products like risk management systems, identity management products, etc.

C. The thrust is on innovative customer experiences – It is certainly true that AI creates as many or more jobs as it displaces. One of the best examples is e-commerce where AI is the driving force behind 360-degree personalized customer experience, higher sales, and marketing ROI. The explosive growth of e-commerce has required a built-out of warehouse and delivery systems across the country, and a robust technology stack that is ever-expanding. The IT system hires huge numbers of data architects, analysts, AI and ML engineers, among other job roles. The vast geographic reach and logistics network has more producers, suppliers, and marketers jumping on to the e-commerce bandwagon. Jobs have been created at every touchpoint. Even as AI ensured slicker and more effective marketing and sales, the exponential growth in job creation offset the loss of marketing personnel. Besides, humans are needed to make sense of all that big data too!

Job creation chart

Source:  BBC Report

According to PwC Reports, AI is expected to create more and more jobs in the next few decades. Some of the fastest-growing job roles across industries include data analysts and software developers. Jobs requiring “human skills” like delivery personnel, shop assistants, and health workers are also expected to increase. 

So what’s in store for you?

The change in social structure and norms like an increase in the number of earning heads per family, has led to increased purchasing power. AI-powered devices are within easy reach of households. The market for voice assistants, wearables and other AI devices has grown phenomenally. 

The lifestyle ecosystem is also largely AI-driven. A 24/7 online connectivity and cheaper mobile devices mean the average Indian is always connected – indulging in social media activity, online purchases, online travel bookings, online financial transactions and more. The emerging business models have disrupted the traditional economy with a fast-paced digitally transformed landscape. AI has transposed itself within a world of pervasive computing – where the computing power is not confined in smartphones or company servers, but built into the infrastructure all around us. In this world of AI, continuous education and upskilling will keep people employed.

Do you still think AI will put you out of job?