Our AI future could increase demand for artists
The rise of AI and machine learning shows no sign of slowing down, but the gravity of its development seems lost on most. But the industry and field of study continues to grow apace, with Silicon Valley seemingly determined to eliminate the jobs of millions via automation — and without stopping to wonder how all those people will survive.
Well, if automation means there’re no checkouts at Coles to man or trucks to drive, how’s an arts degree sound? In 2018, pursuing a ‘career’ in arts — or indeed, any form of work that isn’t profit-for-profit’s-sake — seems like a ticket to poverty and bitterness. But according to Eric Berridge, a “business technology specialist” for global consulting firm Bluewolf, it’s those with arts know-how (rather than, say, engineering) which will be most sought after in this AI-driven future.
Berridge said as much during a recent Salesforce event in Sydney, according to a story on Business Insider. Bluewolf is a company which, among other things, specialises in consulting with businesses regarding “transformation technology” (ie, stuff like AI) and recently joined the IBM family. Basically, Berridge reckons that as engineers iterate on technology, it will become so easy to use and so streamlined that arts graduates could apply their artistic touches in fields that would otherwise be out-of-bounds to them.
“If you look at people we hire at Bluewolf, we have thousands of practitioners globally. Very few of them have degrees in pure science. We’re hiring artists, we’re hiring musicians we’re hiring a whole different class of degrees than a tech company would typically hire.
“STEM is very important for society, but you go on LinkedIn today and look at jobs that are currently posted for organisations like Google, Apple, Amazon, you’d think that 80% of all their hires require degrees in engineering and computer science,” he says. “It’s actually the opposite. We’re a big believer in the creative process when it comes to how organisations evolve. We’re big believers in how people communicate and how the human experience feeds the outcome of that other initiative.” Now, Berridge was speaking at an industry event, anecdotally, so it’s hard to point the finger. But it’s a common enough attitude among (wealthy) leaders in technology companies: automation and AI will create more not less work. But even if that’s true, for whom are these jobs for?
The reality of automation is pretty grim if you’re neither an engineer or hold an arts degree or, indeed, work in jobs requiring no official qualifications. Late last year, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report which outlined that electronics assemblers and word processors would have 45,300 and 25,000 fewer jobs in the market thanks to automation. And while demand for other fields will continue to rise — statisticians, developers, mathematicians — these are all highskill jobs. Notice a pattern here? The one major exception, of course, is online retail-fulfilment centres. So we can all at least look forward to our futures of packing boxes for Amazon, with heart monitoring wristbands to make sure we’re all working effectively...
“Well, if automation means there’re no checkouts at Coles to man or trucks to drive, how’s an arts degree sound?”