Since the idea of robots doing jobs that a human can do there has been a widespread fear of what this might mean for the working population in the more advanced economies, where they are more likely to appear in greater numbers first. However, a new report by PricewaterhouseCooper in the UK has brought hope, because it claims that AI will actually create more jobs and compensate for those lost to automation.
The PwC report actually sticks a number on new employment opportunities. It says AI will deliver 7.2 million new jobs in healthcare, science and education by 2037. Of course, one has to balance this against the 7 million jobs lost to automation, but as PwC points out, AI is the winner and will boost economic growth.
It also estimates that around 20% of jobs in the UK will be automated over the next 20 years and that every economic sector will be affected. PwC said: “AI and related technologies such as robotics, drones and driverless vehicles will replace human workers in some areas, but it will also create many additional jobs as productivity and real incomes rise and new and better products are developed.”
AI can boost number of healthcare jobs
Fears among employees have already been raised by the use of robots like Pepper, made by Japanese firm Softbank Robotics. Pepper is already in use in banks, shops and social care, the latter being a major concern for Britain at the moment, as endless reports indicate the system is failing. However, the good news for all those healthcare and social workers is that PwcC claims that AI could make these two sectors amongst the biggest winners and generate one million new jobs, which is 20% more than the existing number of jobs in the sector.
Manufacturing, transport and logistics may lose out
On the other hand, as more driverless vehicles arrive and factories and warehouses become more automated, this employment sector could see a reduction in job opportunities, perhaps as much as 22%, or 400,000. The report also says clerical tasks in the public sector are likely to be replaced by algorithms while in the defence industry humans will increasingly be replaced by drones and other technologies.
Does AI offer hope post-Brexit?
This report may lift some spirits at a moment in British politics where things have never looked more unstable for the UK economy, if only for the reason that the business of exiting the European Union has raised more questions marks about the future of British trade and industry than it has been able to answer. However, if AI can create new jobs for working people and at least match the loss of jobs to automation, there’s a hope that the fallout from whatever the negotiations bring over the next few months will not hurt as much as many in business fear.