The year 2020 will be a pivotal year in AI-related employment dynamics, according to a recent study by Gartner, as artificial intelligence (AI) will become a positive job motivator.
“Many significant innovations in the past have been associated with a transition period of temporary job loss, followed by recovery, then business transformation and AI will likely follow this route,” said Svetlana Sicular, research vice president, Gartner.
Gartner also highlighted that AI will improve the productivity of many jobs, eliminating millions of middle – and low-level positions, but also create millions more new positions of highly skilled, management and even the entry-level and low-skilled variety by 2020.
According to the study, the number of jobs affected by AI will vary by industry; through 2019, healthcare, the public sector and education will see continuously growing job demand while manufacturing will be hit the hardest. Starting in 2020, AI-related job creation will cross into positive territory, reaching two million net-new jobs in 2025.
“Unfortunately, most calamitous warnings of job losses confuse AI with automation — that overshadows the greatest AI benefit — AI augmentation — a combination of human and artificial intelligence, where both complement each other,” added Sicular.
Furthermore, by 2022, one in five workers engaged in mostly nonroutine tasks will rely on AI to do a job. The study noted that AI has already been applied to highly repeatable tasks where large quantities of observations and decisions can be analysed for patterns. However, applying AI to less-routine work that is more varied due to lower repeatability will soon start yielding superior benefits. AI applied to nonroutine work is more likely to assist humans than replace them as combinations of humans and machines will perform more effectively than either human experts or AI-driven machines working alone will.
IT leaders should not only focus on the projected net increase of jobs. With each investment in AI-enabled technologies, they must take into consideration what jobs will be lost, what jobs will be created, and how it will transform how workers collaborate with others, make decisions and get work done.
“Now is the time to really impact your long-term AI direction,” said Sicular. “For the greatest value, focus on augmenting people with AI. Enrich people’s jobs, reimagine old tasks and create new industries. Transform your culture to make it rapidly adaptable to AI-related opportunities or threats.”
“Using AI to auto-generate a weekly status report or pick the top five emails in your inbox doesn’t have the same wow factor as, say, curing a disease would, which is why these near-term, practical uses go unnoticed,” said Craig Roth, research vice president at Gartner. “Companies are just beginning to seize the opportunity to improve nonroutine work through AI by applying it to general-purpose tools. Once knowledge workers incorporate AI into their work processes as a virtual secretary or intern, robo-employees will become a competitive necessity.”
Through 2022, multichannel retailer efforts to replace sales associates through AI will prove unsuccessful, although cashier and operational jobs will be disrupted. In addition, by 2021, AI augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion in business value and recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity.
“AI can take on repetitive and mundane tasks, freeing up humans for other activities, but the symbiosis of humans with AI will be more nuanced and will require reinvestment and reinvention instead of simply automating existing practices,” said Mike Rollings, research vice president at Gartner. “Rather than have a machine replicating the steps that a human performs to reach a particular judgment, the entire decision process can be refactored to use the relative strengths and weaknesses of both machine and human to maximise value generation and redistribute decision making to increase agility.”
The Gartner study also said that while many industries will receive growing business value from AI, manufacturing is one that will receive a massive share of the business value opportunity. Automation will lead to cost savings, while the removal of friction in value chains will increase revenue further, for example, in the optimisation of supply chains and go-to-market activities.