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

China Daily European Weekly - - Busi­ness - By FAN FEIFEI fan­feifei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY

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.

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