AINews & Analysis

Professionals Think AI will Not Harm their Career Progression


Even a few years ago, the big fear among employees across the world was that artificial intelligence (AI) would impact careers and take their jobs away. When people were locked down at home for over a year, perceptions began to change as technology helped people through the toughest times in well over a century.

A new study finds a large majority of people do not expect AI to harm their future career prospects and many think it will actually help, whereas leading figures in business and tech warn of large scale disruption to the job market.

The study by Blue Beck AI asked respondents their opinion on the impact of AI on their future employment prospects. The results of the survey show that a large majority (70%) of people are of the opinion that AI will either help their future career prospects or at least not impact them negatively, compared to only 30% who believe AI will harm their career prospects.

These findings contrast starkly with the predictions of some leading figures in the fields of business and economics, along with those in artificial intelligence and the tech industry. As Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk stated at the World Government Summit in Dubai, “There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better” and that he expected 12% to 15% of the world’s workforce to become unemployed due to self driving cars alone.

Likewise, former McDonald’s CEO Ed Rensi stated his opinion “robots are going to replace people in the service industry going forward” in a 2019 interview.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology  (MIT) Professor and leading AI researcher Max Tegmark writes that human employment is shifting and will continue to shift towards those jobs that “haven’t yet been submerged by the rising tide of technology.”

According to him, humans will continue to be pushed not only to those jobs too difficult to automate, but those where low wage unskilled human work can still undercut technology on price, even comparing the state of human employment now to that of horses when the internal combustion engine was still in the early stages of adoption.

In view of that the study tries to figure out if we are being too complacent? Are the 70% of people who think that AI will either improve their job prospects or have no impact being complacent?

Possibly, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report indicates that a large amount of disruption is likely, stating that we are now at a point where “in contrast to previous years, job creation is slowing while job destruction accelerates” and that “by 2025 the time spent on current tasks at work by humans and machines will be equal”.

However there may be a glimmer of optimism. Each large push for automation from the original Industrial Revolution through to the deployment of industrial robots and the modern Information Age has seen disruption to the job market, while many jobs have been lost, a similar number of other (often more productive and less repetitive) jobs have been created as a result of the same changes.

The same report does predict that the number of jobs “displaced by a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines” between now and 2025 will be exceeded by the creation of new roles “that are more adapted to the new division of labor”.

The survey results also show that male respondents were more optimistic about the impact of AI on their careers than female respondents, and that those under 35 were more optimistic about the impact of AI on their careers than respondents in other age groups. The 55 and over age group had by far the largest proportion of responses indicating they expected no change in career prospects, unsurprising considering they’ll expect to retire before the other age groups.

Another recent research AI@work conducted by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, an HR research and advisory firm too reveals that 82% of the Indian workforce would like to be with a company that uses AI to support career growth. The global study found that people all around the world have felt stuck in their personal and professional lives, but are ready to regain control of their futures. As Shaakun Khanna, head, HCM Applications Strategy, Oracle Asia-Pacific said, “Several HR functions have already been automated. Employee Self Service is the next level of automation.”

The definition of success has changed for 96% of Indian workers against a global score of 88%. There is now greater focus on work-life balance, prioritizing mental health and having flexibility over when and where they work.

S.V. Nathan, national president, National HRD Network said, “Today, AI is seen as assisting decision making. It helps validate our beliefs and open our eyes to the new reality.”

Suddenly people have realised the need to build on their skill-sets in a changing world. The Indian workforce is willing to forego monetary rewards in exchange for benefits such as skill development, work-life balance, mental health, and so on. According to the survey, 97% of Indian respondents want to make changes in their professional lives. Today, many employees want to work from home from different locations and are willing to forego a little remuneration due to the lower cost of living compared to metro cities.

Employees are also recognizing that meaningful work comes from having peace of mind and continuing to develop skills on a regular basis. As a result, global and Indian workforces are willing to forego key benefits in exchange for more career opportunities.

While there are challenges around AI, it is definitely here to stay. The best way, as many experts believe is to move forward with cautious optimism.

Leave a Response