Based on predictions and
forecasts, the answer is a resounding yes – but yes to job losses not
necessarily to press the panic button.
A study done by Oxford
University found that 47% of jobs in US today were vulnerable to
computerization and some to automation. Take for instance, self-driving cars –
this technology can take over an entire industry of trucking. Almost 3.5M
drivers could lose their jobs.
3.5M job losses presents a
frightening scenario and a cause for widespread panic. When considered in
isolation it is indeed a very depressing prospect. But consider the fact of job
losses that happen on a regular basis in US – thousands of people or close to
3M get laid off every two months and several thousands quit working. If these
numbers are added then 3.5M job losses may pale in comparison to the total
losses in a year. Nevertheless, it will be a major impact to trucking industry
and livelihoods of drivers..
That is not the only
industry to suffer job losses. Most routine type of jobs– assembly lines in
factories, other routine jobs in manufacturing companies, payroll, jobs that
are repetitive in nature will be eliminated across industries by the invasion
The brighter side is that
recent economic data shows that despite continuing advancement in AI and other
technologies, demand for labor continues to grow as well. For past consecutive
eighty months size of the total US workforce has increased. Unemployment rate
is at 4.3% - lowest rate in several decades.
technologies and associated elimination of thousands of jobs is definitely a
matter of concern. Even the new opportunities that are being created are in the
middle-income category with stagnant incomes. Most jobs have been added in the
service sector where automation may not be as effective. Though thousands of
job are created and employment opportunities are available, the workforce laid
off from another industry sector is not open to accepting careers in the
service sector. This mis-match results in higher unemployment for certain
Second reason for
joblessness is that people have stopped looking for work. More than 16% of men
between 25 and 54 years of age with a high school education or less had quit
working completely by 2014, according to a 2016 study done by the White House.
Advances in technology have
impacted US economy no doubt and AI is set to change it even faster. Yet it
will not take over all human work in the near future. In fact, it may be time
to look forward to totally different and interesting career opportunities
fueled by artificial intelligence and technological advances.
Opportunities for IT Professionals
Accenture’s global study
finds that new categories of human jobs are already emerging that require
skill-sets not seen today. Their research shows three new categories of
AI-driven technology and business jobs, namely trainers, explainers, and
sustainers. These professionals will ensure that work done by robots or
machines is effective, auditable and transparent.
New categories will open up
opportunities for displaced workers or those who aspired to change careers.
What will these professional do:
This category is emerging
fast. Human workers are and will be required to teach AI systems how they
should perform. They teach artificial intelligence algorithms how to mimic
human behaviors and also help language translators and natural-language
processors make fewer errors.
A good example is that of
Customer service chatbots – their role is to communicate with humans hence the
have to be trained to detect subtleties and complexities of human
communication. Yahoo trainers are attempting to teach its language processing
system that people do not always literally mean what they say. Yahoo engineers
have developed an algorithm that can identify sarcasm on websites and social
media with almost 80% accuracy.
Then there are those that
will teach AI systems to show compassion. The New York-based startup Kemoko
Inc. has developed a machine-learning system that can help digital assistants
such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri address people’s questions with
sympathy and understanding.
In future, if individuals
are frustrated because their internet service gets dropped on a regular basis
or because luggage was lost or because their favorite team did not win, will
have a sympathetic digital friend who will be compassionate, humorous and very
How is that possible? Humans
will be required to program and train these robots. This will be a very
interesting opportunity for tech professionals.
Explainers will bridge the
gap between business leaders and technologists and. Explainers will help
provide clarity, which is becoming all the more important as AI systems’
opaqueness increases. To deploy advanced AI systems, companies will need
professionals who will be able to explain inner workings of complex algorithms
to nontechnical professionals.
Certain types of algorithms,
like machine-learning bots are more complicated. Others like decision trees,
are relatively simpler to explain.
A new breed of professionals
called algorithm forensics analyst will be in high demand. They will be
responsible to ensure correct results are obtained; they will monitor and be
responsible for holding algorithms accountable for its results. If incorrect
results are obtained they will have to perform autopsies on the event and
correct it. The forensics analysts will need to be trained and acquire skills
that will help them conduct detailed autopsies and explain the results.
With data obtained by
techniques like Local Interpretable Model-Agnostic Explanations (LIME), the
forensics analyst will be a good position to pinpoint the cause or data that
led to a particular result.
As an example, the analyst
can help understand why a marketing campaign targeted only a certain set of
consumers or why an AI-driven manufacturing process was halted or if an
automated recruiting system has identified the best candidate for a certain
position, the analyst using LIME could identify the variables (such as
expertise in a particular narrow field or education) that led to that
conclusion as well as the evidence against it (such as inadequate experience in
a subject, or lack of communication skills or no experience in collaborative
teamwork). Using such techniques, the forensics analyst can explain why someone
was hired or passed over for promotion.
Sustainers — will help
ensure that AI systems are operating as designed and that unintended
consequences are addressed with the appropriate urgency.
One of the most important
functions will be the ethics compliance manager. Individuals in this role will
act as regulator and watchdog for upholding morals and norms of human values.
An example will help understand this role. If AI driven system for credit
approval was discriminating against people in certain geographic areas or
professions then the ethics compliance manager will have to work with an
algorithm forensics analyst to discover the underlying reasons for such results
and then apply appropriate fixes.
Artificial Intelligence will
certainly eliminate thousands of jobs but will also create very interesting new
jobs that will require technical skills, soft skills along with other newer
types of skills. Innovation in technology has much to offer and much to look
forward to for tech professionals.
An exciting future driven by
AI awaits everyone.