AI could create more jobs than it kills
Industry experts at Summer Davos predict that employment may be boosted by new technologies along with the education and healthcare sectors
Artificial intelligence will give a net boost to employment in China, free humans from some tedious tasks and bring about significant changes in traditional sectors such as finance, healthcare, transportation and education, according to industry insiders and business leaders.
AI and related technologies, such as robots, drones and autonomous vehicles, could create around 90 million additional jobs over the next two decades, according to a report released by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers during the annual New Champions 2018 (or Summer Davos Forum) meetings in Tianjin.
Around 26 percent of existing jobs in China could be automated over the next two decades, but this is projected to be more than offset by job creation of 38 percent, for an estimated net gain of 12 percent.
Moreover, services and construction could see the largest increases in employment, with net gains of 29 percent and 23 percent, respectively, by 2037 in China, offset by estimated net job losses of around 10 percent in the agricultural sector.
“Although the long-term net effect of AI on jobs will be positive for China, the transition to an AI-enabled economy could bring considerable disruption to current labor markets, as millions of workers need to switch careers and possibly locations. More efforts are needed for the retraining and support of displaced workers,” says James Chang, China financial services consulting leader of PwC China.
AI-enabled technologies have been applied in several sectors, such as finance, healthcare, transportation and education.
“The anti-fraud work and auditing can be done well by AI, which is more efficient than manual operations. I believe that in the future AI will be applied in more industries,” Xiao Wenjie, founder and CEO of Lexin Fintech Holdings, a Chinese online consumer finance platform, says at a Summer Davos subforum.
Xiao said AI is used in the whole value chain of Lexin’s business, including customer acquisition, risk management, fund matching, after debt management and customer service.
Last year, the State Council issued a plan that set bench marks for the nation’s AI sector, with the value of core AI industries predicted to exceed 1 trillion yuan ($146 billion; 125 billion euros; £111 billion) by 2030.
Zhou Kui, a partner at Sequoia Capital China, says machines can accumulate, store and learn much faster than humans, as well as improve the accuracy of diagnoses and treatment and make it easier to train doctors. “We can expect advances in the healthcare sector, thanks to AI,” Zhou says.
Education is another important application for AI, as machines could undertake one-to-one teaching and offer personalized education in accordance with the characteristics of each student, Zhou says.
A participant at the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2018, or Summer Davos Forum in Tianjin, takes a snapshot of AI robots on display at the event.