Gartner and PwC seem to agree on one key point about the robot apocalypse, AI will likely create more jobs. Artificial intelligence will create as many jobs as it destroys, according to a recent PwC analysis.

While algorithms and machine intelligence phase out existing tasks and former positions and jobs, new ones are appearing, or so goes the conclusion of these studies.

Gartner themselves also have bold predictions: By 2020, AI will generate 2.3 million jobs, exceeding the 1.8 million that it will remove, research firm Gartner said in a report in December of 2017.

Affectionate tycoons such as Billionaires Bill Gates and AI-alarmist, none other than Elon Musk, have argued that robots will basically replace humans at work. Silicon Valley types are coming out in scattered press-releases about how UBI is our best shot at a more fair and equal future.

So why does Gartner and PwC predict and make forecasts that suggest artificial intelligence will create as many jobs as it destroys. Are they looking at just the immediate future, or is something else going on? While Gartner admits manufacturing and transportation will be the hardest hit, public sector service industries such as healthcare and education are expected to see benefits from AI more directly.

The robot overlords warning us about their own inventions seems somewhat sarcastic in all honesty, but even if the short-term prospects of AI show rapid job creation, there’s likely to come a point where it doesn’t hold true. We don’t actually know when that point comes into being: the year AI and robots kill more jobs than they create. I call it the automation employment kill switch (AEKS). Dramatic, I know.

Gartner remains quite adamant that at least by 2020, AEKS is not reached. Nor would we expect it to be, 2020 is only two years away; a time when autonomous vehicles and blockchain adoption are in vogue. Not AI nor a decentralized energy and consumerism grid with 3D-printing or an automated healthcare system yet in place.

PwC admits that AI will “displace” 38% of transport jobs, and 30% of manufacturing jobs, according to their recent report. AI as a positive job motivator until it becomes an existential risk is pretty obvious, it’s what tech companies have been saying for years, even as they fail to regulate their advances in things like facial recognition where only Microsoft seems to admit its negative impact on human rights.

In healthcare for example, AI will create in an aging population of course more jobs and they will be direly needed to keep up. Only 12% of jobs in healthcare will be displaced by AI, while 34% will be created, PwC predicts.

Unlike the Singularity which is highly speculative, the AEKS pivot is a period when it becomes obvious automation is pervasive and accelerating so quickly, that human systems cannot keep up with the pace of change. I’d personally peg such an event at closer to the 2030 mark, when automation is just hitting its acceleration level. AI won’t solely be responsible for such a shift, but be a major contributing factor.

PwC disagrees, they don’t see such a point coming anytime soon. Our estimates suggest that AI will not lead to technological unemployment as we project that it will displace around 20% of existing UK jobs by 2037, but create a similar number.

Gartner has more disruptive news to give, but nothing we should be too worried about. Indeed what Gartner predicts sounds like convenience and not a terrible picture of uncertainty with regards to the future state of work.

  1. By 2022, one in five workers engaged in mostly nonroutine tasks will rely on AI to do a job.
  2. Through 2022, multichannel retailer efforts to replace sales associates through AI will prove unsuccessful, although cashier and operational jobs will be disrupted.
  3. In 2021, AI augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion in business value and recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity.

Firms like PwC and Gartner like many others typically emphasize AI as automating mundane and repetitive tasks but under-represent AI’s impact on more complex tasks more related to white-collar professions. Innovation in AI and automation however, history will show, work in more mysterious ways.

Article originally posted here.

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