Artificial intelligence: the end of the labour market or just the beginning?

Artificial intelligence is changing the rules of the game. It’s fast becoming a disruptive force in a multitude of different fields, but many have also started thinking about all the strategic areas it could completely transform. So how exactly might artificial intelligence affect jobs? As generative AI begins permeating all our lives and – above all – our jobs, experts are starting to highlight the many repetitive tasks it could take over, which will have an undeniable impact on the world of work.


According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), employment and artificial intelligence are already inextricably linked, a bond that’s likely to be further strengthened in future. According to the intergovernmental organisation, 27% of jobs in advanced economics could be automated by AI in the short term, but crucially not just because of AI, when you also consider all the many other technical advances currently in development and still to be implemented within the jobs market. That’s nearly a third of all jobs expected to be taken over by artificial intelligence and many millions of human jobs with them, so is the labour market facing an existential risk?



Jobs and artificial intelligence. Not the first time this debate has reared its head

The simple answer – or rather the brief answer, since such complex questions can’t truly be answered in just a word or two – is “yes and no”. This debate has raged many times over the years. Artificial intelligence is not a newcomer to the world of technology, in fact, it’s been in development for decades. It’s just that the limitations of technology and computing power have held AI back in the past. These days, the capacities we have available are likely to mean we’ll be able to overcome all those barriers of the past and continue to advance like never before. Jobs and artificial intelligence have never been so closely entwined as they are right now.


But this is nothing new. Other technological advances have seemed seismic at many points in the history books. From the steam engine to the car, the discovery of electricity, radio space, the Internet or the telephone, to name just a few… Each of these leaps forward has meant many jobs that once seemed essential have been rendered completely unnecessary thanks to technology and automation. At every one of these junctions, there was intense debate about “meddling” in how things are done, and about the risk technology posed to workers. It even led to the emergence of an “active resistance” that opted for violent opposition in various places around the world. This time, that type of reaction won’t be necessary.



AI jobs: a wealth of opportunities, an essential step forward in human development

As has been the case throughout history, the jobs that disappear do so as a result of “natural evolution”. At some point, they simply disappear from society. Either because of a new technological discovery, or the introduction of something else altogether. But also because of changes in how people live their lives and the things they need.


It’s always been the case that as soon as one job disappears, a multitude of others will flourish. Carriage drivers and horse grooms may have become surplus to requirements, but mechanics, traffic sign manufacturers, traffic officers and the engineers who designed and built combustion engines all became very popular indeed. With artificial intelligence, exactly the same thing will happen: the jobs that AI can take off our hands will be dealt with efficiently, quickly and at low cost. At the same time, the people who used to do those jobs will be able to dedicate themselves to other pursuits, some of them related to artificial intelligence itself. To cite just a few examples, we’ll need:


  • Algorithm developers
  • AI process supervisors and reviewers
  • Legal specialists in intellectual property rights, ethics and techno-ethics
  • Technology trainers who specialise in AI
  • Database managers to oversee the ones used to feed AI and its processes, etc.


In fact, it’s highly likely that many of the jobs we’ll soon see flourish as a result of AI don’t even exist yet, because the needs they will meet haven’t been generated yet. But they soon will. The history of human development runs parallel to the history of technological innovation, how technology transforms our environment, and how we adapt as a species to a changing world.

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