Why AI Will Create More Jobs Than It Will Eliminate

Lotta Lundaas

Lotta Lundaas

VP of Marketing

Learn which jobs and industries can significantly benefit from AI-fueled automation and which jobs will still need to be carried out by humans as we look forward.

May 31, 2024

5 min read

Why AI Will Create More Jobs Than It Will Eliminate

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been the focus of pop culture for decades, with endless movie plots questioning if and when machines will take over the world. “The Terminator” (1984), preyed on humanity's fear that robots would be better than humans. Twenty years later, the movie “I, Robot” (2004) showed us a future where robots take over public service positions and conspire to enslave the human race, only further fueling a fear of the rise of machines.

Today, AI-powered technology is rapidly transforming the business landscape, with autonomous platforms and software designed to remove manual, time-consuming work while drastically speeding up processes, content creation, and complex decision-making. As AI establishes a foothold in more and more industries, people are wondering how the technology influx will impact human workers and employment. 

It doesn’t help when prominent figures in the innovation world such as Elon Musk, Tesla founder and a founding member of OpenAI, make grand statements about AI taking all of our jobs. Without any context, this can be alarming, but Musk further explained that he believes occupations requiring emotional intelligence and creativity will still be in high demand. 

Will a robot take my job?

Many activities that workers carry out today have the potential to be automated, so will robots take over the labor force and increase an already high unemployment rate? People living in the 18th century probably felt the same way during the Industrial Revolution.

A report from McKinsey found that one-third of the jobs we have today didn't even exist 25 years ago. So even as AI replaces workers in some occupations that are manual, task-oriented, or monotonous, new job functions will be created. In the Future of Jobs Report, the World Economic Forum predicted 85 million jobs will be lost by 2025, and 97 million will be created over the same period. This is a net increase of 12 million.

According to the World Economic Forum, the time spent on current tasks at work by humans and machines will be close to equal by 2025. We are already working through these changes in the workplace, and more people will have to work with technology, but robots will not take over the labor force as new jobs are generated. One of the main goals for employers should be to find a balance between tasks that need to be done by humans that require high cognitive thinking and strategic decision-making, and those well-suited to be done by machines. Business leaders have an important role in this evolution and need to start identifying upskilling opportunities for team members now, to train and elevate human capital before it’s too late.

Some of AI’s main benefits are automation fueled by higher output levels, better quality of work, and fewer accidental errors. However, just because something is intelligent doesn't mean the AI is qualified to execute certain jobs or tasks. In a Zippia Research Report, approximately 24 percent of American jobs had high potential for automation, with 36 percent rated as medium potential, and almost 40 percent as low potential.

Are robots, machines, and AI coming for your job?

While manufacturing industries “employ” 82 percent of industrial robots, there will be a shift in repetitive tasks like data entry, even for these machine-driven verticals. AI will do the mundane data entry, but data science and design will still be in the hands of humans. 

Even if — or when — AI algorithms could handle extremely complex data science, someone will still need to program and oversee the algorithms operationally, and test and improve them. Even though a quality AI algorithm is in place, it will still need to be maintained to make sure everything is running as anticipated or to be able to improve upon learnings. In fact, the social platform X already employs humans to help machines make sense of the information they're aggregating to ensure its accuracy and the context of suggested content makes sense for every user.

Further, AI can't read and process human emotions yet, and interactions are limited, even with the latest AI “assistants” and personalities. Banking often relies on professional business relationships when it comes to making large transactions or fraud prevention. Personalized service is critical for many industries, such as consulting, which means the human touch will hardly be replaced by robots. And, in all industries, managers leading projects through many moving pieces, stakeholders, deadlines, and budgets will still be needed to make decisions and apply insight on the fly.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants, forensic scientists, geological technicians, technical writers, MRI operators, dietitians, financial specialists, web developers, psychologists, loan officers, medical secretaries, and customer service representatives can all expect a positive impact of the adoption of AI.

Factors impacting the adoption of AI and automation

Very few occupations can be 100 percent automated at the current level of AI innovation and technological advancements. As machines and algorithms get more advanced, the adoption of automation will speed up, but even if it's technically possible to automate a work process, it might not be the best way forward.

The cost of developing and deploying AI-powered automation can be high, and skilled workers could still be less expensive than automation. More factors that come into play are access to high-speed mobile internet and the development of cloud and other technologies.

All things considered, the future might be most accurately portrayed in the Academy Award-winning movie “Ex-Machina,” where a programmer is hired to perform tests on an intelligent humanoid robot. Machines will be intertwined with humans at the workplace, and if professionals embrace new technologies and adapt their skill sets, there will be more opportunities and potential career pathways, and even more fulfilling work as the monotony and repetitive work is left to the computer. 

Three AI considerations for employers 

1) Break down job functions into task fractions and determine which tasks can be automated to transition employees’ time toward more rewarding tasks.

2) Define the process requirements for automation, clarify the inputs and expected outputs, then create the necessary documentation before implementing a solution.

3) Change is inevitable. And without it, progress is impossible. Implement a mindset with an embrace-the-change culture.

Keeping AI accountable as we look forward

Even with all the momentum and investment in AI, some business leaders and employees are still hesitant to trust AI to “do the job”. Many professionals are wondering, “Can I trust the AI software I purchase?” and “How will I know it’s doing what it’s supposed to do?” As investments are made, and technology is implemented, there are a few ways business leaders can hold AI accountable:

1) Having scrutiny over the foundational data used to train the AI

2) Understanding how the AI algorithms work with systems and data

3) Consistently reviewing outputs and accuracy to optimize over time

4) Feeding the AI corrections and adjustments as needed to improve accuracy

5) Welcoming feedback from software users and line-of-business workers

This article originally published in June 2022, and was updated May 2024.

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