Over the next few weeks, What Jobs News will be publishing information from the think tank the Milken Institute. The report gives, in our opinion, an unprecedented insight into the future of jobs and what it means for you. It will cover robots, software and AI and how, by 2030, human labour could all but be extinct in some industries. Let’s begin.

Introduction

The aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis spotlighted unequal access to jobs and opportunities in the US. After the Occupy Wall Street protests, many industries and agencies re-examined policy areas for their impacts on inequality (including even the Federal Reserve1). Many policies today, including universal basic income,2 free education and health care, reduced labor inflows and controlled trade
and investments are partly in response to unequal access to opportunities and uncertainties about the future of work.

While everyone’s attention was focused elsewhere, artificial intelligence (AI) exceeded human capability in such areas as image classification, language translation, and speech recognition. For example, DeepMind’s AlphaFold has generated breakthrough solutions in protein folding (a 50-year-old problem),4. At the same time, OpenAI’s GPT-3 can write HTML code to create websites based only on human descriptions of what the site would look like.5 AI enables autonomous vehicles and navigational systems that allow ships to cross the Atlantic and planes to land without radio signals. Entire factories and ports are already fully automated, as are an increasing suite of services. The benefits for industries are profound and far-reaching, but there is already a significant impact on peoples livelihoods.

However, with automation comes displacement.

By 2030 in the US, McKinsey estimates that 16 million to 54 million workers may lose their jobs. Oxford Economics forecasts some 2 million job losses in manufacturing due to robotics automation. A Brookings Institution analysis predicts that six in 10 jobs8 will face medium to high exposure to automation.

Research and industry diffusion of technologies is accelerating, and many believe that speed determines the winner in the world of AI. This leaves workers less time to adjust and reskill. Moreover, general-purpose technologies like AI, blockchain, cloud computing, and 5G will leave broad swathes of industries vulnerable to disruption.

What people are saying about the pace of AI in the job market

“It’s even faster than I thought, the speed … from [AI] research to product.” Lee Kai-Fu, Chairman and CEO, Sinovation Ventures
(2020 Global Conference)

“You have to worry about concentration [plus] new companies nipping at your heels with very flexible easy entry … So it is a hard time to go slow as a major company.” Susan Athey, The Economics of Technology Professor, Stanford University (2020 Global Conference)

“Every industry here is going to get disrupted for the next three to five years, and these are all changes that will last for decades.” Guru Gowrappan, CEO, Verizon Media (2020 Global Conference)

On a more positive note, the same studies often expect technology to produce net gains in jobs, as seen in the past. Indeed, the US experienced an unusually protracted rise in employment from 2010-19 (see Figure 1) even amid the ongoing AI revolution. This speaks in part to successful efforts by critical stakeholders to address the shifts in skills demanded and the crucial role various organizations play in preparing their communities for the future.

Next week we will focus on the data that backs up these claims

Source: https://milkeninstitute.org/