Citing “significant” new corporate investments in AI technology, futurist Gary Grossman argues that AI "may be the fastest paradigm shift in the history of technology – and warns there’s a counter-argument to the theory that AI will create as many jobs as its displaces. “The other view is that this time is different, that we are not just automating labor but also cognition and many fewer people will be needed by industry.” KPMG claims more than half of business executives plan to implement some form of AI within the next 12 months… The disruption is already beginning, with fully 75% of the organizations KPMG surveyed expecting intelligent automation to significantly impact 10 to 50% of their employees in the next two years. A Citigroup executive told Bloomberg that better AI could reduce headcount at the bank by 30%. In the face of all this change, many companies publicly state that AI will eliminate some dull and repetitive jobs and make it possible for people to do higher-order work. However, as a prominent venture capitalist relayed to me recently on this topic: “most displaced call center workers don’t become Java programmers.” It is not only low-skilled jobs that are at risk. Gartner analysts recently reported that AI will eliminate 80% of project management tasks…
A New York Times article noted that while many company executives pay public lip service to “human-centered AI” and the need to provide a safety net for those who lose their jobs, they privately talk about racing to automate their workforces “to stay ahead of the competition, with little regard for the impact on workers.” The article also cites a Deloitte survey from 2017 that found 53% of companies had already started to use machines to perform tasks previously done by humans. The figure is expected to climb to 72% by next year… The net of this dynamic is that workers are not a major factor in the economic calculus of the business drive to adopt AI, despite so many public statements to the contrary.
So perhaps it’s not a surprise when the Edelman 2019 AI survey shows a widely held view that AI will lead to short-term job losses with the potential for societal disruption and that AI will benefit the rich and hurt the poor.
He also shares a sobering quote from historian, philosopher, and bestselling author Yuval Noah Harari on why Silicon Valley supports Universal Basic Incomes.
“The message is: ‘We don’t need you. But we are nice, so we’ll take care of you.’”