Is AI taking jobs?

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February 28, 2020

Yes, it already has, and it is quite possible that in a not so distant future, AI will soon be taking over a much larger proportion of jobs that were once done by humans.

According to data collected by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) approximately 1.5 million people in the UK will be at a high possibility of losing their employment thanks to jobs being automated.

The ONS based these figures on a study assessing the jobs of 20 million people in England in 2017. They found that approximately 7.4% of these positions were deemed high risk in terms of being replaced by AI solutions.

Which occupations are most likely to be replaced by AI?

The study by ONS shows that there are definitely certain occupations at a much higher risk of being replaced by AI software developments.

The occupations most at risk were waiters and waitresses, sales occupations or shelf fillers. These were considered to be at most risk given the low-skill, routine nature of the jobs. The problem with these roles is that AI algorithms developed by humans can carry out these tasks far more quickly and efficiently than a human can, and at a lower cost.

The impact has been keenly felt already in certain occupations, for example, the ONS found that 25.3% of supermarket assistant jobs between 2011 and 2017 have already gone, thanks to self-service checkouts.

Which occupations are at the lowest risk of being replaced by AI?

The occupations in the UK deemed to be at the lowest probable risk from automation where predominantly higher education teaching professionals, senior education professionals, as well as medical practitioners and dental practitioners.

Generally speaking, jobs that rely highly on social skills and people are jobs that are less likely to be replaced by new technology. For example, a machine is highly unlikely to do the same empathetic job as a human could when it comes to roles such as nursing or therapy.

Will AI impact my job?

Advances in artificial intelligence and automation can affect people's jobs in a myriad of ways. Depending on your occupation or sector, it could present positive or negative opportunities. For example, AI could:

  • Allow for more productivity: AI can automate processes and save a considerable amount of time on repetitive tasks. This allows you to do more, and that could mean you end up with a higher rate of pay.
  • It also presents opportunity: new AI technology can also lead to the creation of more jobs too - for example,  software developers and IT specialists would have been unheard of in the 1980s! So it is not all bad news.

What jobs can AI not do?

Previous vice president of Microsoft, Google, and Apple, Kai-Fu Lee has said that he believes AI will have a bigger impact on the word than electricity will. However, he believes there are certain jobs that will be completely safe from the revolution. These are:

  • Creative jobs: Lee believes jobs like the roles of novelists, scientists and artists ultimately can't be replaced as AI cannot invent.
  • Empathetic jobs: as mentioned before, jobs such as nannying, teachers or doctors - jobs that involve empathy (which AI does not have) are safe from AI, in Lee's opinion.
  • Strategic jobs: economists, diplomats and executives will be likely unaffected by AI as the demands of the jobs go far beyond what a computer can do.
Dani Katz
Dani Katz
Founder Director

Dani’s actuarial experience and passion are key. He is a strong advocate of innovation, optimism and communication, both within the team and for the clients. Dani’s ability and experience with data ensure that we always maximise value and efficiency for every project, enabling us to unlock hidden value for the clients business.

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