Experts from around the world estimate that this could be at least 50% of the future labour market by the end of the decade and this has now been accelerated through lockdowns and the “work-from-home” concept (abbreviated WHF). Simple logic, if not needed at the office, why bother keeping home workers – the new global WHF cohort anno 2020 – when it can be automated and replaced by algorithm and artificial intelligence?
Big tech and proponents of the gig economy argue that AI, automation and robotisation will create as many new jobs as it destroys.
The Big question is – which new jobs will be created – and that depends largely on each person’s individual skill set.
It’s safe to say that the higher the intelligence and intellectual capacity of someone, the greater the chance of a successful career. Add to that a good education at a major university, most likely followed up by a Master’s degree and the chances of career success grow exponentially.
The reality however is that not everyone has the required skill set or intellectual capacity to study and pursue a successful career. And some are not even bothered, owning to perhaps a supportive family nursing the career development of their offspring. On the other side of the spectrum, the career ladder may be distinctively different. Not everyone wants to become a coder or data scientist, some just may want to be creative or pursue culinary endeavors. And the latter two – the creative and the culinary – have a distinct advantage where AI cannot compete; creativity cannot be programmed, only copied or simulated.
At the bottom of the labour market – the blue collar worker – which usually involves low-skilled, repetitive manual labor such factory workers, the future looks rather bleak. Just about any blue collar worker can and will be replaced by robots or robotics. Think car manufacturing, warehousing and logistics, to name but a few of the obvious. And soon driverless taxis and trucks will impact the transport and logistics industries beyond recognition.
White collar workers have a relatively better future, although not easily replaceable depending on required skill set, they can be substituted through automation and RPA (Robotic Process Automation). Think insurance brokers, travel agents and accountants.
University graduates, experts and specialists have a distinct advantage; they cannot – as yet – all be replaced by AI and automation. Think doctors, lawyers and scientists as well as many other specialized occupations such as artists, musicians and athletes. After all, no one wants to see robots performing a live concert or competing at the Olympics.
The biggest challenge however will be how to prepare for a continuously evolving labour market where rapidly advancing tech will have the comparative advantage. And the only answer to this vexing question is that society will need to focus on “humane tech” and ensure that the human element does not go lost in automation, algorithms and robotics.