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TECHNOLOGY


in AI and the consequences for jobs. Finally, we’ll look at the practical steps we can take to stay relevant.


What is AI good at?


AI can drive! Although AI profes- sionals don’t seem to think so. Not yet, and not in the same way humans do. Computers have much more specific, limited understanding and goals than a human driver. Tis limited focus means they can perform well at predictable, contained tasks for which they have been prepared, but struggle with the unexpected.


Drones and autonomous cars are expected to bring in 424,000 jobs to the UK by 2025, though they will certainly make other jobs redundant


❝ A self-driving car might have no


concept of a bus shelter or fence – it only recognises a solid space that it should not drive through. In most situ- ations a car doesn’t need to distinguish a fence from a bus shelter – it just needs to avoid both. But what if the situation is unusual? A human driver will know, and be able to take account of, a wealth of contextual information that is not relevant most of the time. For example, bus shelters often conceal people and, in taking evasive action, it might be more important to avoid hitting the shelter than the fence. Humans have shortcomings in


driving cars too, they lack concen- tration for example, and training machines in more and more scenarios will eventually see machines surpass humans at the wheel of our cars. But the example illustrates the broader point. Te shortcoming and strength of AI is that it creates ‘idiot savants’: algo- rithms that are amazing at performing a single, well-defined task, but can fail at a minor deviation from that task. Te attempts to develop human-like ‘general intelligence’ are forecast to be unsuccessful for the next 20 to 60 years. So the types of intelligence humans


and computers possess are still quite different, and this difference is key


34 | august 2016 |


to understanding how AI will affect the jobs humans do in the future.


AI can drive… change!


While human intelligence will remain better than AI at many tasks for years to come, there is equally much now done by humans that will soon be done better by machines. Te pace and scale of change will differ significantly by industry and country. Perhaps unsur- prisingly, according to a January study released by the University of Oxford in collaboration with Citi GPS, the lowest skilled professions are at the highest risk of automation. Tis skew means the scope for substitution of jobs varies around the world. Te percentage of jobs likely to be auto- mated in the UK and the US will be 35 per cent and 47 per cent respectively, well below the study average of 57 per cent, while China sits at 77 per cent.1 Tis substitution, however, is offset


by the creation of new jobs: out of the top ten skills that got people hired in 2014, six barely existed a decade before.2


Tere will be almost a million


unfulfilled IT jobs in the EU of 2020.3 Overall, “In the EU, it is estimated that there will be over 9.5 million additional jobs and 98 million replacement jobs between 2013 and 2025.”4


So perhaps


this period is like the transformations after the agricultural and industrial revolutions – old jobs die and more relevant new jobs replace them. How will the world of work change?


redundant. Healthcare is expected to require 4 million more jobs be- tween 2012 and 2022, and just last year healthcare openings have in- creased by 23 per cent to 852,000. Another high-growth sector


is the green economy, where in the UK 357,000 jobs have been added in 2012, according to the Office for National Statistics. Another study6


estimates the


likelihood of job types being com- puterised. People skills definitely pay off. So, for example, recreational and other types of therapists are basically irreplaceable. Medical skills also remain important, with medical profession- als’ likelihood of being replaced (as opposed to augmented) by robots estimated to be close to zero. Sim- ilarly for professionals dealing with crises and emergencies (by definition unexpected events, taking AI out of its comfort-zone). Human judgment will reign in unusual situations for a long time, because AI still largely relies on human codified guidance, which is hard to produce for unusual situations. Artists, researchers, software develop- ers and builders can also sleep easy. Telemarketers, clerks, accountants and simple technicians have been assessed as very likely to be largely re- placed by computers (more than 95 per cent) over the next couple of decades. So manual and low-skill personnel may be joined by their higher skilled colleagues in being forced to adapt.


Figure 1: Expected source of new jobs How to stay relevant Based on the Oxford/Citi GPS survey


IT sector 24% Industrials 19% Health & medical 14% Commodities 8% Financials 7% Consumers 5% TMT 5% Creativity 3% Sharing economy 3% Education 3% Other 9%


As Figure 1 shows, most of the job


growth is expected to occur in IT. It will also happen in small and medium enterprises: in the UK an increase in self-employment accounts for two- thirds of the job growth since 2008.5 Drones and autonomous cars


are expected to bring in 424,000 jobs to the UK by 2025, though they will certainly make other jobs


So we have a picture of what is likely to happen to the job market. But what can we learn to prepare best for the future? Citi’s corporate clients cite IT


and computer skills as important to securing good jobs (52 per cent), but other studies have found “social intelligence” and “novel and adaptive thinking” as well as “cross-cultural competency” to be very important. Even in basic productivity skills,


especially in the UK which has seen its average productivity shrink since 2012, there is a lot to be done. As the study explicitly notes7


: “Te dispersion of


incomes across workers has also grown (Barth et al). Tis may be because some workers lack the skills needed to be very productive, they may lack the funds to invest in the required train-


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