What will AI replace in the current jobs market, and which roles will be harder to replace?

by Heat Recruitment

by Monique Vorster

Thanks to vast technological development, AI is finally hitting the mainstream. Today, AI-backed solutions are starting to make waves in a number of industries and business leaders seeking to drive efficiency are beginning to explore the potential that machine learning holds.

However, whether you’re a sceptic or a true believer, you’ll agree that most conversations surrounding AI tend to revert back to the same question: will robots eventually take our jobs?

The current landscape

In September 2013, Carl Frey and Michael Osborne published a report examining just how susceptible American jobs were to computerisation and automation. Their research estimated that up to 47% jobs in the united states were at risk. The research acted as a wakeup call to industries around the globe as their long-standing superstitions regarding an artificial intelligence revolution were truly taking beginning to gain traction.

While it is without doubt that a small portion of jobs have already started to feel the threat of artificial intelligence, a seismic shift in the jobs market is yet to take place. However, businesses shouldn’t get too comfortable. By the mid-2030s, PwC predict that up to 30% of jobs across the globe could be automatable, while a poll from YouGov revealed business leaders’ concerns that up to 4 million private sector roles in the UK could disappear.

Dispelling the myths from the truth can be challenging when technology is in midst-evolution. However, based on what we know so far, we can start to make predictions about which roles will be replaced and which will be immune to the mass-adoption of AI:

Service roles

Earlier this year, Google showcased their growing portfolio of AI at their annual I/O developer’s conference. Observers in the audience were left awe-struck, and their demo of “Google Duplex” effectively broke the internet. If you can cast your mind back, you may recall an eerily intelligent and human sounding virtual assistant booking appointments with a variety of human counterparts who were wholly unaware they were conversing with AI.

This moment will forever act as a warning shot to service industries; a sign that artificial intelligence is beginning to blur the lines between human and synthetic interaction. Roles within industries such as telemarketing and customer support will inevitably be some of the first to feel the brunt of AI’s disruption. Under threat from AI-powered applications such as Quickbooks, bookkeepers have already started to see signs of the market shift as small business look to cut costs and streamline processes.

Meanwhile, logistics giant Amazon has already taken steps to futureproof their businesses and stay at the forefront of technology. In 2015, Amazon ambitiously announced their venture into drone deliveries for their products. The ability to have an item delivered to your home in under thirty minutes may have once been reserved for science fiction, but Jeff Bezos is on a mission to make it a widespread reality. In turn, those who work in the fulfilment and delivery sector will understandably feel threatened by the rate that AI progresses. Only this year JustEat announced trials into robotic food delivery to combat the threat of sector rivals, UberEats and Deliveroo.

Creative pursuits

On the opposite end of the spectrum, roles that require creative skills and thought are viewed as irreplaceable (at least in the foreseeable future). Designers, writers, engineers and big thinkers are impervious to redundancy from current machine learning. Though we wouldn’t want to rule anything out, these roles rely a very human element, a certain subjectivity which is at present incredibly difficult to programme.

Management roles

In a very similar vein, roles in management will always require a human touch. If you look at human resource managers for example, it’s pretty much in the name alone. Dealing with interpersonal staff relationships doesn’t compute with machine learning. In fact, according to PwC’s report on the future of work, managers are to feel the least disruption from AI: if anything, these professionals will benefit from the implementation of machine learning in the workplace as it allows them more time to focus on people rather than processes

Tech talent

With the fourth industrial revolution just around the corner, it’s never been a better time for IT professionals. As developments in AI come thick and fast, these experts will stand on the forefront of digital transformation, helping businesses to implement new solutions to enhance efficiency and maintain a competitive edge. Programmers, developers and those in the FinTech space in particular will be in high demand when robots come knocking: their skills will enable leaders to harness artificial intelligence and stay ahead of the technological curve.

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