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jobs artificial intelligence

Written by Noman Waheed 7:11 pm Articles, International Relations, Pakistan, Published Content

Artificial Intelligence & Jobs: What Does the Future Hold?

Noman Waheed discusses the potential benefits and drawbacks of artificial intelligence, primarily focusing on its impact on global employment. While the rise of AI negatively influences jobs, particularly in routine sectors, it also has the potential to create jobs in tech-based industries. The author encourages skill development to adapt to the evolving job market influenced by AI.
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Mr. Noman Waheed is a graduate of NUST.

Introduction

Every innovation comes with a price; however, depending upon its usage, it can either be beneficial or harmful. The case of artificial intelligence (AI) is not so different. Ostensibly, it seems that AI-induced systems are creating challenges for people, especially the workforce, yet the prospects of AI-led all-inclusive development are encouraging. At present, we are benefiting from AI-based systems in various ways. Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Assistant are evident examples of AI-powered applications.

With each passing day, AI is proving itself successful in its ultimate goal of making intelligent machines, as envisioned by its founder, John McCarthy, in 1955. AI, the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, is now performing complex tasks of speech recognition, problem-solving, and decision-making, which were once considered the sole domain of human beings. Many people are skeptical about the rise of AI; however, there is a need to view it in a broader paradigm. As one of the AI researchers, Eliezer Yudkowsky said, “By far the greatest danger of artificial intelligence is that people conclude too early that they understand it.” Consequently, the rise of AI is a source of better job opportunities, provided that people are well-versed and well-skilled according to the demands of AI systems.

Artificial Intelligence and Jobs

Countries across the world are spending enormously on AI-based technologies. According to CB Insights, global funding for AI companies reached $8.3bn in the third quarter of 2023. In Israel alone, AI-based industries comprise 17% of total tech industries. China is another leading player in the field of AI. The burgeoning investments in AI companies appear to be warning signs for blue-collar workers. According to the World Economic Forum report, “Future of Jobs 2023”, 83 million jobs will be eliminated by 2027.  In America, it is predicted that 47% of blue-collar jobs will be automated by 2025. Similarly, in Southeast Asia, 133 million people will lose their jobs in the next 20 years. All these figures pose a very grave picture for the overall workforce of the world if they do not equip themselves with the latest technological trends.

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In fact, the threats of AI-induced systems are not only limited to blue-collar workers; white-collar workers are in equal danger. For instance, Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, has employed AI robots for hiring and firing of employees. This shows that the top managerial jobs are going to be automated very soon. Ever-increasing demands of industrial productivity require fast-paced processing, and those who are unable to meet this demand are bound to be replaced by robots. The share of humans in the global workforce, which at present comprises 71%, is decreasing at a much faster pace.

Institutionalized jobs, such as those of teachers and journalists, are also under threat now that students can learn efficiently and effectively through artificial intelligence systems. ChatGPT is one such example, which provides an array of ideas with just one prompt. Likewise, leading media platforms, such as Forbes and the Associated Press, are using journo-bots for gathering business and sports news. These bots are able to identify fake news as they can easily sift out the news on the basis of their distinctive patterns, as identified by Nature Communication, a leading journal in the field of AI.

Impact on Employment in Pakistan

As far as Pakistan’s job market is concerned, the country is highly susceptible to the effects of AI. We are already facing the dilemma of unskilled youth having no substantial employment. On the one hand, the unceasing rise of AI has exacerbated the unemployment woes of the youth, while on the other hand, it is creating enormous challenges for those who are somehow employed. The jobs that are at acute risk of replacement due to artificial intelligence include bank tellers, data entry clerks, postal clerks, cashiers, ticket clerks, insurance clerks, and street vendors.

A research study conducted by Dawn shows that approximately 17% of jobs in Pakistan are at a high risk of automation. With the increasing trend of automation like the Internet of Things (IoT), smart home systems, and machine learning, our job market finds itself in a position no less vulnerable than the Achilles heel. Industries that heavily rely on a manual workforce may face significant job losses due to the routine nature of tasks, leading to a surge in unemployment within the country’s labor force.

In the wake of growing AI startups and incubation centers, these routine jobs are at high risk of being replaced by highly sophisticated machines and robots. In fact, as per the Labour Force Surveys of Pakistan, from 2014 to 2021, employment in the agricultural sector lowered from 42.3% to 37.4%, and in the manufacturing sector, from 15.4% to 14.8%. Consequently, there is genuine apprehension about the widening gulf between the unemployed and employed workforces of the country vis-à-vis the relentless rise of AI.

Will Artificial Intelligence Provide More Jobs?

After expounding the ills of AI, it is imperative to shed light on the more nuanced aspect of AI, i.e., the job opportunities AI is going to offer in the future. According to the World Economic Forum, artificial intelligence will create 69 million new jobs by 2027. These new jobs will be created primarily in tech-based industries, such as self-driving automobiles. For instance, Tesla will undoubtedly require a tech-savvy workforce to manufacture cars. The same is the case with the robotics industry, where we will witness enormous job potential because of the inclusion of AI-based robots.

In Pakistan, as per the McKinsey Report “A Future that Works,” AI could increase labor productivity by 30% to 40% in sectors like healthcare, manufacturing, and agriculture. However, the need is to upskill our youth with emerging trends so they can make their space in these sectors. The confluence of info-tech and bio-tech has opened up huge vistas of jobs.

Though the author of 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Yuval Noah Harari, is skeptical about this emerging trend because of the increasing danger of hackability of human thoughts and opinions, the IT sector is demanding more curious minds that can make innovations like biosensors and biochips of the like of brain implants developed by Elon Musk’s Neuralink. These technologies will give us a better understanding of human nature and their inclinations.

Fast-paced technological developments, like the quantum computer developed by Google, are inviting brilliant minds to come up with novel ideas for leading these innovations ahead. With the help of AI, the quantum computer can solve even complex computations within 200 seconds, which even the supercomputer would take 10,000 years to complete. Thus, we are witnessing enormous job potential in the field of AI as several technological advancements are making their way into it.

AI-powered military hardware is propelling at a much faster pace than anticipated by most strategists. Several countries across the globe have articulated their AI strategies for keeping their arsenals aligned with highly sophisticated modern warfare. Countries like the US, Russia, and China are investing heavily in AI-led military research centers. The Sea Hunter submarine of the US, the Soaring Dragon unmanned combat aerial vehicle of China, and the Skybots F-850 space exploratory robot of Russia are evident examples of AI-based military machines. This shows that people have bright chances of materializing their potential in the military-industrial complex.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, the unceasing rise of AI is posing a serious threat to employability; however, one can find better job opportunities by upgrading his skills per the demands of AI. Skills never remain constant; a person has to learn new ideas and gain expertise to survive vis-à-vis emerging trends. After all, it is all about living up to the basic Darwinian principle of “survival of the fittest.” Instead of being pessimistic in the face of AI, one should focus on skill enhancement. The defeatist approach does not bode well, and only those emerge victorious who dare to take bold steps.

Surely, it is a great challenge for the global workforce, but a task that is not unachievable. It only demands determination, diligence, and dedication to modify current working patterns in accordance with the demands of AI. Also, it is the need of the hour to align human resources according to the challenging nature of AI. In this regard, the observation of Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, is very pertinent: “It is critical for businesses to re-skill and up-skill their existing workforce to meet emerging demands.”


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The views and opinions expressed in this article/paper are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Paradigm Shift.

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