Will AI eliminate human jobs?
This is a question on the minds of many. As expected, there are two answers. One set of people extrapolate towards a large number of things that AI will soon do better than human beings and make the holders of such jobs redundant. This includes a variety of fields such as medical evaluation, credit rating, legal search, weather forecasting, demand forecasting, machinery failure forecasting, fraud detection, vehicle navigation, and many more. Newer applications of AI are emerging every day.
On the other hand, many claim that just like in the past, the technologies will create new jobs that are not been imagined today. They state that the nature of jobs will change and that the number of jobs will not change drastically, as new jobs take the place of older ones. I see myself belonging to this category, and here is my justification.
I see multiple new types of work, each of which will create many new jobs. The first is to actually prepare the AI to be effective. This includes things like preparing the right data sets, training the AI to find the right answers and re-training the AI to be effective under changing scenarios. This is not different from an engineer designing a robot that assembles cars in a factory. Just as car assembly jobs are getting replaced by jobs for designing, maintaining and upgrading robots, many knowledge jobs will be replaced by jobs related to training, monitoring and enhancing AI. The market makes it possible for multiple companies to create robots and thereby generate multiple sets of jobs. Given that AI technology will be very easy to create, I suspect there will be a large number of companies in the business of creating and supporting AI systems, thereby creating a large number of jobs.
Another set of jobs that will emerge will be how to use AI creatively. As an example, while there are numerous companies that make cars and bikes, there is a large industry for customizing cars and bikes. This is where the creative urges of individuals create value. Is there any reason why such people will not be able to apply their creativity to AI? I think not.
Yet another set of jobs will emerge relating to regulation and compliance. Just as we need a large human force to manage the traffic on the roads, we will need a growing number of personnel to monitor and regulate sectors like finance, food, pharma, health, technology, data, etc. AI itself will handle some of the regulatory activities, but new jobs will come up to ensure that large risks and systemic risk do not go out of control.
We have learnt from centuries of technology development in our history that newer technology leads to more uncertainty, not to less uncertainty. I expect this fundamental trend to continue. As long as there is uncertainty, there will be sufficient number of jobs for human beings. Jobs will disappear only when we create heaven on earth, and if we do that, then we won’t have to worry about jobs anyway.