Peiru Teo

Jan 17, 2022

Is AI eating jobs?

One question I've been repeatedly asked by leaders when they are implementing AI projects is if it will really replace jobs.

It is like a love-hate relationship for some. On one hand, they need to show that it reduces man-hours and human involvement, and yet, on the other hand, it is politically incorrect to displace people.

For the record, none of my clients has ever retrenched anyone. What they have done is to take the chance to cross-train their staff, streamline processes and make bold changes to the mix of interaction channels with their customers.

Predictions about human labour being replaced by robots have been overstated for decades

Since many years ago, there have been talks of ai or robots replacing humans. Lots of doomsday scenarios and scare tactics to arouse fear among the population.

In fact, wage increases are rising faster than productivity in many places.

This is definitely not something in line with the thesis of human labour being pushed towards obsolescence by robots.

However, if we think about it,

Robots have been taking jobs on the assembly line since the 1950s and 1960s, and the number of people employed has only increased.

In fact, why not think: How many new jobs can be created because of this technology?

Will people's jobs be safer?

Will people's jobs change to be of higher value add and hence truly be deserving of higher wages and not just to combat inflation?

Will people's jobs be more interesting?

Replacing certain tasks, not people

Do realise that job consists of many tasks. AI cannot take away every single part of the job. But what it can do is to help or eliminate certain tasks.

If you are ever afraid of the AI singularity, one helpful tip is to break down the job's tasks into parts and determine what proportion of the job is a good fit for AI. Assume that someone out there is working hard to make that happen.

Focus on the rest and hone your craft. Be really good at it.

Future proof yourself.

Picture credit: Xu Haiwei

Peiru Teo

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