How is AI technology going to affect the workplace in the near future?
Which AI/ML-based technologies are going to affect everyday work in the upcoming months/years, and how are they going to change the lives of most workers?
First things first – there's no such thing as "the effect of AI on jobs in general." Each industry and sector is going to be affected in a completely different way. In particular, less educated workers are those who will be more negatively impacted by this change, as they are most likely to be left behind and substituted by machines. This does not necessarily mean that all less-educated people will be left jobless, though. Most employees working in industries where the potential for automation is higher will simply need to acquire new competencies and change their skill sets in the future.
However, automation will free up much more space for "humane" working, for example by freeing up creativity and critical thinking in the workplace as the more mundane tasks are automated by machines. AI-based assistants will handle a lot of the repetitive and streamlined tasks, allowing workers to enjoy much more free time to concentrate on different and more creative functions. Employees will become much less specialized and much more flexible as the old "single skill set" gradually becomes obsolete. Most employees will have a higher average education (similarly to what happened after the Industrial Revolution), but more importantly, everyone will be required to possess some degree of data literacy.
Data is becoming the driving force behind most business decisions, especially when AI will be able to consume all this data that should therefore be harvested and harnessed in the appropriate way. AI will collect immense amounts of data from the IoT and all connected devices on its own, but humans will still have the duty of making sense of this data, and, more importantly, establishing a safe environment that safeguards everyone's privacy. In fact, right now even the best, most intelligent AI is still in its development phase, and will require a lot of human help to become "mature." A lot of new jobs will be created for AI trainers and explainers who will have to assist machines while they perform their duties as... assistants. A human assisting a machine assisting humans. It may seem redundant but... let's say it's a long-term investment.
Machines may also make workplaces more hectic, or more relaxing (depending on the point of view). People have shorter attention spans, are always in hurry, and do not want to wait, especially millennials. This is going to be reflected in the workplace as well. AI will make all response and reaction times shorter (think of a customer service job, for example), which is something that all the new generations expect and require. As machines simplify most repetitive or mundane tasks, humans can be more efficient and, therefore, quicker at providing responses. Whether this will make workplaces more frenetic or not will probably depend on social and cultural differences (try imagining a Japanese office vs an Italian one...).
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Written by Claudio Buttice
Dr. Claudio Butticè, Pharm.D., is a former clinical and hospital pharmacist who worked for several public hospitals in Italy, as well as for the humanitarian NGO Emergency.
He is now an accomplished book author who has written on topics such as medicine, technology, world poverty, and science. A freelance journalist as well, many of his articles have been published in magazines such as Cracked, The Elephant, Digital Journal, The Ring of Fire, and Business Insider.
Dr. Butticè also published pharmacology and psychology papers on several clinical journals, and works as a medical consultant and advisor for many companies across the globe.Full Bio