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Is Artificial Intelligence for good?

Updated: May 20

AI and Automation: the future of work

As machines increasingly complement human labor in the workplace, we will all need to adjust to reap the benefits. Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are transforming businesses and will contribute to economic growth via contributions to productivity. 

At the same time, these technologies will transform the nature of work and the workplace itself. Automation solutions will be able to carry out more of the tasks done by humans, complement the work that humans do, and even perform some tasks that go beyond what humans can do. As a result, following benefits can be reaped by implementing Automation solutions powered by AI.

  1. Accelerating progress in AI and Automation creates opportunities for businesses, the economy, and society

  2. Potential to transform businesses and contribute to economic growth

  3. About half of the activities (not jobs) carried out by workers could be automated

  4. Helps creating new opportunities for generating income, and labor markets to function better

Skill shift: Automation and the future of the workforce in five sectors:

1) Banking and insurance

Financial services have been at the forefront of digital adoption, and the banking and insurance sector is likely to see significantly shifting demand for skills through 2030. The financial-services sector contains a range of potential uses for AI, especially in forecasting risk and personalizing the marketing of products to customers. The number of workers such as tellers, accountants, and brokerage clerks will decline as automation is adopted. The need for a workforce that uses only basic cognitive skills, such as data input and processing, basic literacy, and basic numeracy, will likely decline, while the number of technology experts and other professionals will grow, as will the number of occupations that require customer interaction and management. This increase will drive strong growth in the demand for social and emotional skills.​

2) Energy and mining

Automation and AI are enabling companies to tap into new reserves as well as increase extraction and production efficiency. Predictable manual work and administrative jobs that involve data manipulation, such as meter reading, will be susceptible to being displaced, while demand for technological jobs will be buoyant. The demand for physical and manual skills along with basic cognitive skills are expected to decrease, while demand for higher cognitive, social and emotional, and technological skills should grow.

3) Healthcare

Automation and AI will change the interaction among patients and healthcare professionals. The demand for care providers, such as nurses, will continue to see growth, while the demand for office-support staff will see decreases because of automation of tasks related to record keeping and administration.

Demand for advanced IT skills, basic digital skills, entrepreneurship, and adaptability will see the largest double-digit cumulative growth. However, demand for skills such as inspecting and monitoring patient vitals and medical equipment will stagnate, despite the overall growth in healthcare, as machines take over more routine tasks. 

Healthcare is the only sector in our analysis in which the need for physical and manual skills will grow in the years leading to 2030. This variation reflects the gross motor skills and strength needed for occupations such as elder care and physical therapy and the fine motor skills required of registered nurses.

4) Manufacturing

The next wave of automation and AI in manufacturing will disrupt production functions in factories through better analytics and increased human-machine collaboration. It will also have an impact on product development and on marketing and sales.

The overall need for physical and manual skills in the sector is decreasing at more than twice the rate of that for the whole economy. The need for basic cognitive skills is also declining as office support functions are automated. The number of professionals such as sales representatives, engineers, managers, and executives are expected to grow. This will lead to growth in the need for social and emotional skills, especially advanced communication and negotiation, leadership, management, and adaptability. The need for technological skills, both advanced IT skills and basic digital skills, will increase as more technology professionals are required. Demand for higher cognitive skills will grow, driven by the need for greater creativity and complex information processing.

5) Retail

Smart automation and AI will continue to reshape the revenue and margins of retailers as self-checkout machines replace cashiers, robots restock shelves, machine learning improves prediction of customer demand, and sensors help inventory management.

The share of predictable manual jobs, such as driving, packing, and shelf stocking, will substantially decline. Jobs that remain will tend to be concentrated in customer service, management, and technology deployment and maintenance. Demand for all physical and manual skills and for basic data input and processing will decline, while growth will be strong in demand for interpersonal skills, creativity, and empathy. Advanced IT skills and programming alongside complex information processing skills will also see a surge in demand.

Conclusion: About half the activities carried out by workers today have the potential to be automated.

To assess the employment implications of automation, we focused on work activities rather than whole occupations as a starting point. We consider work activities to be a useful measure since occupations are aggregations of different activities, where each discrete activity has a different potential for automation.

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