Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t taking everyone’s jobs, but it is displacing some people.
In a January 2018 Infosys survey of executives and IT decision-makers worldwide, roughly two out of five respondents said their company eliminated jobs that became redundant after adopting AI. And roughly 70% of respondents reported that employees at their companies are concerned that they’ll be replaced by AI.
On a less dystopian note, about half of respondents said AI is making people more efficient at their jobs. Similarly, almost half of those surveyed reported that AI is freeing up people’s time by automating rote tasks.
Most respondents indicated that when AI is applied to a task, it is more efficient and productive than humans. Among those surveyed, 45% said AI tools are significantly more accurate than humans doing the same job. Respondents from India were the most bullish about AI.
It is quite possible that AI is overhyped. But people are having real anxiety over seeing their jobs replaced by robots. In a recent Gallup poll, 73% of US consumers said they anticipate that AI will eliminate more jobs than it creates. The Infosys survey probably won’t assuage those fears, nor will the insistence from tech company executives who say that AI will grow the work force.
Technological disruption is not a zero-sum game, so it is usually wise to exercise caution before generalizing the findings of a single study about AI. An article in the MIT Sloan Management Review states AI will create new jobs since the emergence of the technology will lead to new positions for people who specialize in tech training and operating. A report by Gartner estimates AI will create 2.3 million jobs by 2020, while eliminating just 1.8 million jobs.
The impact that AI will have on the job market remains speculative. What is more clear is that companies are increasingly throwing money at AI, particular in the marketing technology industry, where large companies like Salesforce, IBM, Oracle and Nielsen have invested in it. According to an August 2017 survey of chief information officers worldwide by Dynatrace, 83% of companies with more than 1,000 employees use or plan to use AI in the next year.