AI, robots will help create far more jobs than they cost, World Economic Forum argues


Machines will do more than half of all labor in the workforce by 2025, according to a massive study by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Automation and intelligent machines already have made strong inroads into the workplace; machines put in nearly one-third (29%) of total hours worked in 2018, versus the 71% logged by humans. By 2022, the WEF says, machines will be doing 42% of all work. The researchers expect that number to jump to 52% by 2025. That’s just seven years from now.

The types of machines that will perform work will vary depending on the needs of the job. For example, the financial services sector already is embracing humanoid robots in the form of chat bots that can mimic and understand human language, while manufacturers and supply chains increasingly will rely on physical, stationary robots that can perform repetitive tasks.

Then there are the machines that can move. Aerial and underwater robots will be ideal for enterprises that must explore difficult or vast environments, such as oil and gas companies. Finally, non-humanoid land robots such as self-driving cars and trucks are being embraced by transportation, delivery, and aerospace enterprises.

It’s nice to see so much diversity in the robot workforce! But it should come as no surprise that as machines continue to expand their ability to perform jobs both routine and complex, humans will be impacted. That’s bad news for workers in jobs such as data entry, administration, and customer service, all of which are listed in the WEF report as in danger of declining as machines are used more. (See graphic below.)

Fortunately, the study concludes, the 75 million jobs it expects to be phased out by 2022 will be more than offset by the 133 million that researchers expect to be created as newly needed skills emerge and as enterprises re-evaluate and redeploy employees. And as you can see in the graphic, the top 10 emerging jobs are heavily weighted toward IT and analytics skills. That bodes quite well for IT professionals — as long as they are adaptable and willing to learn.

There are a lot of details in the WEF report worth exploring in future posts, but the organization’s general take on the impact of machines in the workplace is optimistic. Let’s hope they’re right!


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