In 2013, two researchers at the University of Oxford released a report titled The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerization?” In it, the duo assessed over 700 occupations’ susceptibility to computerization, using a Gaussian process classifier to determine the ranking of each from most- to least-susceptible. They concluded that about 47% of jobs in the United States were at risk of being replaced by computerization, with wages and level of education exhibiting “a strong negative relationship with an occupation’s probability of computerization.”
The authors argue that technological advances will replace low-skill and low-wage workers (among others), who will then seek employment in fields that require social intelligence and creativity—jobs that are least susceptible to computerization. But as the National Commission on Technology, Automation and Economic Progress stated over 50 years ago, “. . .technology eliminates jobs, not work.” Advances in technology both kill and create jobs, but it remains to be seen which occupations are next on the chopping block—and which jobs will be created by the same technologies.
The Only Sure Thing about AI, is Uncertainty in AI
There is no shortage of studies, reports, and opinion pieces bemoaning and warning of AI’s job-killing inevitability—but it seems no one can agree on how many jobs in which sectors will be killed or created. Early in 2018, MIT Technology Review compiled a list of studies that predicted when and where AI would both destroy and create jobs. MIT found discrepancies between each predictor, both in terms of numbers and sectors impacted, concluding that: “we have no idea how many jobs will actually be lost to the march of technological progress.”
Humans Have Always Feared New Technologies. AI is No Different.
Uneasiness towards new technologies is nothing new; from the 18th century to the present, technological advances have loomed over certain industries, particularly labor-intensive jobs. But AI and computerization are different; their reach stands to touch virtually all industries in one way or another—which contributes to the growing narrative that AI will destroy millions of jobs.
And this fear is far-reaching; 90% of respondents in 84 countries stated in a Quartz poll that they believe up to 50% of jobs will be taken by AI—but 91% believed AI would take other jobs, not theirs. Even the late Stephen Hawking opined in the Guardian that:
“The automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing, and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job destruction deep into the middle class, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining.”
So, which of these jobs stands the greatest chance of being lost to computerization, according to the Oxford study?
- Data Entry Keyers
- Library Technicians
- New Accounts Clerks
- Photographic Process Workers and Processing Machine Operators
- Tax Preparers
And the least?
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Workers
- First-Line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers
- Emergency Management Directors
- Recreational Therapists
(A searchable list of each occupation’s rank can be viewed here.)
AI Isn’t Smart Enough to Take Millions of Jobs—Yet
Despite the fear and uncertainty surrounding AI’s future role in both jobs and people’s lives, some aren’t convinced that the robot revolution will happen anytime soon. Salesforce’s chief scientist, Richard Socher, believes that the uneasiness about AI is unfounded. He told CNBC at a tech conference in Singapore that AI was “not even close” to possessing the ability to replace millions of jobs. AI currently lacks adequate “transfer learning capabilities,” capabilities that are—as of now—inherent only in humans, not software or robots.
Even as AI steadily becomes interwoven with the workplace, its abilities have not yet reached a point where they can replace millions of jobs; humans are still in control of AI’s evolution, and how we work with it and make it work for us—rather than bristle against its inevitable implementation—will be essential.
Face Uncertainty with an Experienced Partner
The future of AI and its impact on the workplace is yet to be written. While dozens of studies report both net job loss and job creation, it remains unseen how quickly AI will become a permanent fixture in the workplace. But for now, humans are still calling the shots and executing tasks that artificial intelligence cannot yet perform—and that’s why working with an experienced global expansion partner to help build the right global team is important.
Whether you’re aiming to hire one employee in Stockholm, or a dozen in Santiago, Velocity Global’s International PEO (Professional Employer Organization) solution can have your organization operating in your new market in as few as 48 hours—no entity required. Reach out to Velocity Global today to learn more about how we can help your organization grow its global presence into any of the 185+ countries in which we operate. Ready to go global? Let’s talk.