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Thursday, 07 October 2021 09:31

AI is influencing the future of work and life: How big is the risk?

By Guest Writer
AI is influencing the future of work and life: How big is the risk? Possessed Photography on Unsplash

GUEST OPINION: Artificial intelligence, or AI, seems to be the buzzing topic these days. Most businesses are calling it a standard operating procedure whilst most of the employees on the ground are drowning in fear of robots taking over their jobs and eventually, the entire world. The media hasn’t quite made it easier to understand; the information out there is broad and varied. However, while no one can foresee exactly how AI will progress in the future, current trends and advances present a very different picture of how AI will become a part of our everyday life.

Let’s start off by demystifying the subject. 

What is Artificial Intelligence really?

According to Britannica, artificial intelligence is defined as "the capacity of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to execute activities typically associated with intelligent beings.”

Generally, AI is the catchall term we use for any advancements in computing, systems, and technology that allow computer programs to perform tasks or solve problems that require the kind of reasoning we associate with our human intelligence, including learning from previous processes.

In truth, AI is already at work all around us, influencing everything from our Google search results to our chances of finding romantic love online to the way we buy.  If you click on this IGA specials link, you’ll experience what is called image-based targeted advertising. Big supermarkets like IGA, Aldi, Woolworths etc., also use shopper customisation, and warehouse and inventory automation among other things. This is AI at work.

The usage of AI in various corporate areas has increased by 270 per cent in the past four years. In 2015, only ten per cent of businesses said they were using artificial intelligence technology or planned to do so in the near future. By 2019, the percentage had risen to 37%, indicating that more than one-third of businesses are either utilising or planning to use artificial intelligence.

Picture 2

Photo by Andy Kelly on Unsplash

So, how does this affect the future of work?

To assuage some of your worries, robots are unlikely to take all our jobs in the near future. However, right now, the main concern is with traditional industries with plant workers, packers and machine operators, especially in industries like coal mining. As per estimates from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 36% of Australian occupations are at risk of becoming automated.

The workaround suggested is upskilling. Affected workers will need to have their roles upskilled to replace their regular tasks which are easily done by machines. This would ensure that people could perform non-routine activities that could not be automated. There is also the option to change jobs; some industries will not be as hard hit as others. The best prospects currently lie in teaching and health.

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Image by Matthew Henry from Burst

Rather than encouraging the abolition of human labour though, take AI is transforming the way people work in organisations by making operations more efficient, facilitating better decision-making, and freeing up staff from certain responsibilities. Job responsibilities are changing, as are the skills that are most in-demand.

A recent study of trends shows that AI will continue to drive tremendous innovation, which will fuel many existing businesses and have the potential to establish many new ones, resulting in the creation of additional employment. Improving internal corporate procedures is a benefit on par with improving goods and services for AI adopters. Companies all over the world are rapidly recognising the importance of developing strong AI capabilities in order to remain competitive.

Industries in which AI has had, and will continue to have the strongest impact

Cybersecurity

Many company executives are concerned about cybersecurity, especially given the significant increase in cybersecurity incidents in 2020. During the Covid19 pandemic, hackers targeted those who worked from home, as well as less protected technical equipment and Wi-Fi networks. In cybersecurity, AI and machine learning will be important technologies for detecting and forecasting attacks. Given its ability to handle massive quantities of data and anticipate and detect fraud, AI will also be a critical tool for financial security.

Health Care

The potential benefits of using AI in medicine are currently being considered. The medical industry contains a large quantity of data that may be used to develop healthcare-related prediction models. In some diagnostic situations, AI has been proven to be more successful than physicians.

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Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Automotive

With the introduction of autonomous cars and autonomous navigation, we can already see how AI is affecting the world of transportation and autos. AI will also have a significant influence on production, especially within the automobile industry.

E-commerce

AI will continue to play a critical role in every aspect of e-commerce, from user experience to marketing to fulfilment and distribution. We should anticipate AI to continue to drive e-commerce through chatbots, shopper customisation, targeted advertising, warehouse and inventory management, among other things.

Final words

We conclude in this article that current worries about AI causing mass unemployment are unlikely to materialize. Instead, we are of the opinion that, like all past labour-saving technologies, AI will promote the emergence of new industries, resulting in the creation of new employment than the technology eliminates. However, we believe that the Australian government and other sectors of society must play an important role in easing this transition, particularly for those whose old employment has been disrupted and who are having difficulty finding new jobs.


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