Some people are running for the hills fearful of the impact that AI and machine learning may have on the employment market in the years to come. We will be surrounded by robots cleaning our houses, mowing our lawns and cooking our meals. We will no longer drive but be ferried around in driver-less cars and delivered our content on head-up display on spectacles.
It all sounds very futuristic and a different world to the one we live in but many of these technologies exist but the cost is too prohibitive or we are not yet ready to adopt. It was much the same way for George Orwell's 1984, it described a future world and it was pretty accurate to a world we now recognise. It took slightly longer than the 35 years he predicted (the book was published in 1949) but eventually he was right on many themes.
The world of work will change as a result of AI, robots and machine learning but as in the mobile phone example in the article new roles & jobs will emerge even if it is robot maintenance! The question is are we pessimistic or optimistic, are we half full or half empty. Billionaires will be made from embracing the future to do something we don't know exists today.
But the future is in some ways also only tomorrow. On a practical note are we doing job analysis that expects changing job roles so that we select people with a growth mindset who will embrace change and adapt their skills? Even for the pessimistic people this would be a great place to start!
To pessimists, new technologies such as AI and robotics are going to be a destroyer of jobs on a vast scale. I have always argued that while some jobs might be replaced by machines, employment would not be. Technology would, in future, create as many jobs as it destroyed, if not more. It is not the best example, but the cottage industry that has grown up to replace smashed smartphone and tablet screens would not exist if there were no smartphones and tablets. The optimistic argument about AI and robotics goes a lot further than “they won’t bring mass unemployment”. It is that these technologies will unleash a period of strongly rising productivity and prosperity, shaking us out of our post-crisis lethargy and into a much brighter and better future.