Artificial intelligence impelled by machine learning, computer vision and internet of things is evolving as a technology deployed for general purposes. AI has been touted as a vision for future generations and times to come, however, it has also received a major criticism for reducing human effort and thereby, cutting down jobs. The article examines the above mentioned claim and looks at the extent of job creation in realm of automation.

It has been argued that spread of AI technology in the market will not only disrupt traditional industrial practices with their increasing prowess at tackling complex prowess but also have a huge impact over job landscape. A report by PwC titled as, ‘How AI is reshaping jobs in India’ indicates that, “36% of decision makers stated that overall, advancements in automation and technology had not displaced jobs, 46% of the decision makers/influencers indicated that they would have a severe impact on employment in India”. However, the report suggested that revolutions in technology would still require humans in certain areas for retaining their expertise. The industries which will be subject to maximum automation are manufacturing, followed by finance. The next sector is that of teaching- the report revealed that “56% of participants with a teaching profile stated that their roles would be subjected to partial automation with humans retained for a specific expertise”. It has been holistically pointed out in the report that benefits and advantages of AI will outweigh the employment related concerns.

Another report by Hindu businessline has pointed out that in order to replace humans for doing various errands AI robots will have to be trained so that they can perform tedious, and repetitive tasks. For instance, in case of self-driving cars, AI will have to be trained not only to identify humans while being on the road but animals like cows, dogs, cats. The training hours for AI secured machinery will be more so that it understands the road, traffic and is thus, a time-consuming process. In this manner, every AI tool will have to be trained and fixed through millions of iterations. The report argues that six areas where the use of robots will create jobs are automobiles, electronics, renewable energy, skilled systems, robotics, food and beverage. Jobs to be replaced by technology would at the same time require humans who are trained to partner and collaborate with AI. Further, such human capital must know AI deeply to build such systems which can use cognitive intelligence of humans.

A research report by Observer research foundation has claimed that AI is being deployed for coding and programming which has led to loss of jobs in the IT sector. In 2018, Indian IT companies have lost 50,000 jobs due to automation-in house as well as on the client end. The rising use of AI will not only threaten the low-end but high-end jobs too. Retailers such as Walmart have announced to replace 6000 jobs due to automation. Thus, it is also true that a large number of human effort is being replaced by mechanised labour. Martin Ford and Jerry Kaplan have argued in their work, ‘The Rise of the Robots’, that the future is all about ‘jobless growth’ which continues to haunt everyone’s minds these days. However, it must be understood that society cannot be led by dichotomy between man versus machine, it is always the collaboration between the two that can create changes. Furthermore, technology is only a assistance, an aid for humans to ease out their daily life and not something that can take their place, as it is humans only who build and refine innovations. At the same time, it is crucial for the government to make sure that technology goes hand in hand with the skill building in humans as both are intertwined. I have argued earlier in the piece that development of AI to such a large extent will not be possible without human skill and expertise in training technological tools. Therefore, an important point that I am making here is that although there will be loss of employment opportunities in the future, however, there will be newer jobs and new skills which remain unheard as of now. The ‘Future of Jobs’ study commissioned jointly by FICCI and Nasscom with EY argues that “9% of India’s 600 million estimated workforce would be deployed in new jobs that do not exist today, while 37% would be in jobs that have radically changed skill sets” (BusinessToday: 2017).

A white paper prepared by Cognizant in this regard points out that over next ten years mass employment will be in collaborative role of man-machine teaming learner- a role involving an amalgamation of robotic skills (accuracy, endurance, computation, speed etc) and strength of humans (cognition, judgment, empathy, versatility), AI business development manager: role of business developers in selling AI technology which AI cannot do itself, data detective: generating business answers and recommendations from studying data emerged out of Internet of Things, bring your own facilitator (BYOITF): “work environment that exploits digital trends and encourages shadow-IT innovation, the goal of a good BYOITF would be to provide business users with the flexibility to compile their own mobile and collaborative environments” and AI-assisted healthcare facilitator: in depth diagnosis of patients and taking care of them, thus, medical expertise will not be limited to doctors and nurses.

Therefore, the job creation in AI automated context will expand to comprise of newer kinds of skills to comprehend and deconstruct newer technological innovations.

This piece is written by Manisha Chachra. Manisha is Associate Researcher at Govern.

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