- AI will create 500,000 more jobs than it will displace over the next three years
- Millennials are the most vulnerable generation to the threats AI poses
Many of the jobs that Millennials work in today didn't exist when their parents entered the job market. And chances are the young professionals of the future will work in fields that don't exist today.
Such is the nature of an economy continuously influenced by new technology, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) promises to transform the workplace once again.
But while some herald in the AI revolution with unbridled enthusiasm, excited by the opportunities and enriching work it could create, others are more pessimistic. However, both parties agree that AI has widespread application, from automating routine tasks to making complex decisions instantly. The debate is not so much about the power of the technology itself - all agree it's revolutionary - but rather the role of the people that will work alongside it.
Either way, experts all agree that the workplace is about to change forever. Here are two ways that AI will change careers for young professionals.
Optimists say AI will create more jobs
A study of 1,000 companies
revealed that AI systems created new jobs in 80% of the organizations they were implemented in. In fact, a 2017 Gartner report
predicts that AI will create 500,000 more jobs than it will displace over the next three years, ushering a slew of employment opportunities for medium-to high-skilled workers.
As the global economy gears up for the widespread adoption of AI solutions, competition grows fierce for employees with the scarce skills required to implement, manage and work alongside this new technology. Developing these skills is therefore vital for any young professional wishing to remain relevant in an increasingly automated workplace.
And as this skilled workforce drives the AI industry forward at an accelerated pace, the demand for even more highly trained professionals will grow alongside it. This will result in a workplace comprising of adaptable people - according to Gartner - whose jobs are reimagined, enriched or facilitated by the technology they work alongside.
While it's true that many low-skill jobs will fall by the wayside, replaced by the sophisticated automation AI enables, new careers and industries will emerge that haven't been invented yet. Just as our parents struggled to predict the emergence of fields like social media or blogging, so, too, are we incapable of comprehending the jobs AI will create.
Pessimists say AI will replace workers completely
In contrast to this optimistic view, Gallup suggests that Millennials
are the most vulnerable generation to the threats AI poses, with 37% of Millennials being at risk of redundancy. But redundancy isn't just a short-term problem for young professionals. A McKinsey report
states that half of today's work activities could be automated by 2055, or in more extreme scenarios, up to 20 years earlier.
The relative job security of older generations (only 32% are at risk of redundancy) is in part due to the senior positions they hold within their companies. After all, it's easier to replace somebody in the infancy of their career rather than replace entire branches of management or executive leadership. Not to mention that it's often these senior staff members who are in charge of decisions surrounding AI implementation in the first place, and they're unlikely to replace themselves.
How then can young professionals prepare for this wave of unprecedented redundancy? Optimistically, only low-level, repetitive tasks will be automated in the near future. This means that Millennials with developed and adaptable problem-solving and decision-making skills can insulate themselves from the immediate threat of redundancy, and aim to work alongside AI in more senior management positions over the long term.
Pessimistically, widespread redundancy is unavoidable and will usher in a new philosophy regarding the role of human work in society. If machines are able to perform cognitive functions that were previously too difficult to automate successfully, no jobs are safe.
Theorists suggest a universal basic income as a solution, whereby governments provide their citizens with a living wage to combat their inability to secure employment. And while hotly contested, pilots are already under way in Finland.
Artificial Intelligence is still in its infancy, and is yet to reach the point of mass adoption. As such it's difficult to predict the extent to which it will redefine the workplace or the jobs of the young professionals within it.
The most likely scenario, however, is a combination of both the optimistic and pessimistic views. An economy that prizes highly-skilled, well-trained, and adaptable employees who work alongside very smart machines. And a large segment of low-skilled workers whose skills are made redundant at an alarming rate.
While we can appeal to the better nature of organizations to nurture and prepare their staff for an inevitable technological transition, Millennials should heed the warning signs, take initiative, and equip themselves with the skills needed to survive a potentially tumultuous economic evolution.