Institute of Management, Nirma University - Logo
Institute of Management, Nirma University - Logo

Is Artificial Intelligence a net creator of jobs?

The advent of any new technology will be perceived as a boon for humankind. The new invention can offer new opportunities and improve the standard of life. Any new technology is invented to solve a problem faced by the population at large. But there is also a flip side to the adoption of any new technology as it can result in the loss of jobs. The fear of becoming redundant can work as a motivating factor to constantly upskill and stay relevant in a rapidly changing world where the focus is on using new technology.
Before predicting the future of the employment rate due to the use of artificial intelligence, we have to go back in past to see what kind of impact new technology had on overall employment. During the 18th century, railways were introduced to transport people and materials to far-off places. The immediate impact could have been the job losses of horse carriage drivers and stable owners who used to supply horses. But, the use of railways created far too many jobs in the form of locomotive pilots, attendants at the railway station, maintenance engineers, and a lot more.
A similar scenario was also created when the banking industry was using digital technologies to automate the traditional jobs performed by its employees. One could suspect due to the adoption of new technology there would have been a drastic reduction in the jobs such as bank tellers. Although this is true these individuals were upskilled to offer other banking services. Before the digital era of banking the services provided by the banks were slow and ineffective as a larger section of the population was without a bank account. But current banking provides us with a lot of flexibility, and more products and the total number of bank branches has more than doubled from the levels in the year 2006. Hence more jobs are created in banking due to digitation.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also a new technology that has the potential to disrupt every industry. Currently, only big tech companies are using AI to offer specialized solutions for their customers. These applications could be in the form of a recommendation engine for the customers of Netflix or Amazon to offer then suggestions based on their past purchases. Google offers better results based on AI. Autonomous cars can help to drive a car without any human intervention through the use of image processing algorithms. The application of AI is limited to specific areas where there is funding from these tech companies with deep pockets. The recent advancement in the field of chatbots due to ChatGPT-3 is also limited to generative text. But the ultimate aim is to create a general-purpose AI that can perform diverse functions rather than building applications for specific purposes. Achieving this dream to build an AI system that can mimic the multiple capabilities of human beings is going to take a lot of time and effort. Hence this provides us with a lot of opportunities where more engineers can be employed to create specific applications of AI. Due to the success of AI in big tech companies, there is a renewed interest in other sectors of the economy to replicate the success. AI can find applications in the field of medicine to diagnose diseases through training the AI system on various scans required for diagnosing a disease. The use of AI in the field of medicine will not take the job of a doctor but aid them in decision-making. These systems can reduce the burdens on the existing doctors as a country like India is far behind the global benchmarks on healthcare indicators. Similarly, AI systems can also be used in automating the manual process in manufacturing industries by offering automation through robotics where the job can be done without any risk associated with the hazardous environment of the manufacturing industry. The use of AI has witnessed a sudden surge in demand due to the popularity of neural networks which tries to mimic the human brain for performing any tasks. Neural networks are versatile in solving various kinds of problems. The problems could be related to the classification of images or text, prediction, or clustering of records. Not just that but neural networks use reinforcement learning to learn from past mistakes and with the use of more data they can perform better with each iteration. Access to large datasets is only limited to large corporations and hence it is still out of reach from the small and medium sector industries. It is the job of the government to democratize access to large datasets as well as the tools used by AI to help smaller organizations offer better products and solutions to their customers. New initiatives should also be launched by the government to train future generations of engineers who can help in building new tools where the users can develop new solutions without using the complexity of artificial intelligence.

It is difficult to accurately predict the effect artificial intelligence can have on the job market. Artificial intelligence is a new technology and the short-term goal is to automate mundane process which is unreliable as well as prone to errors. These are the areas that will witness job losses but more jobs will be created that will offer higher salaries as these individuals will possess specialized skills. These jobs would help in solving real-world problems across different sectors with a focus on achieving productivity improvements while using fewer resources. Hence in the short term, we will experience some job losses but in long term, the field of artificial intelligence will offer more jobs and improve the output of society by offering innovative products and services. Hence it is absolutely important to educate and attract the new generation for learning the skills used in the field of artificial intelligence.

I would end this blog by borrowing this statement from Santiago where he states that ?AI will not replace you. A person using AI will.?

Author Prof. Omkar Sahoo