Within five years robots and so-called intelligent agents will eliminate many positions in customer service, trucking and taxi services, amounting to 6 percent of jobs, according to a Forrester report.

“By 2021, a disruptive tidal wave will begin,” said Brian Hopkins, VP at Forrester, in the report. “Solutions powered by AI/cognitive technology will displace jobs, with the biggest impact felt in transportation, logistics, customer service, and consumer services.”

Intelligent agents, chat bots and digital assistants include Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Alphabet’s GoogleNow and Facebook’s Messenger bots. They are powered by artificial intelligence and they can already understand a person’s behavior, interpret their needs and even make decisions for them.

AI-based services and apps will eventually change most industries, resulting in a redistribution of jobs, Forrester found. Self-driving cars, for example, will have wide-ranging impacts on both the auto and transportation industries.

Facebook and Google are soaking up top talent and building huge bodies of data to train algorithms that will power all kinds of new services, the report found. They are already able to take things like images and video and convert that “unstructured data” into insights, like labeling objects in images.

The bots of 2021 will be much better at understanding human language, and they will be better at learning from users and increasingly able to handle more complex scenarios. Those expanded cognitive abilities will make intelligent agents much more useful to people, and drive widespread adoption over the next three to five years, the report found.

Facebook and Google are right now in the process of creating a baseline set of artificial intelligence and cognitive services. By 2021, others will tap those tools to scale their business and steal customers from competitors, the report found.

Facebook is already enabling this. By opening up its Messenger application program interface earlier this year and continually expanding its developer tools, the company is making it easy for businesses to automate conversations with the over a billion people using the app every month. Messenger now has more than 33,000 bots, helping companies to automate once costly back-office processes. For example, On Monday Facebook vice president of messaging products David Marcus announced new tools to enable bots to accept payments inside the app.

Image credit: Edgar Su/Reuters
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