Depending on who you ask, AI and automation will either destroy jobs or create new ones. In reality, a greater push toward automation will probably both kill and create jobs — human workers will become redundant in certain spheres, sure, but many new roles will likely crop up. A report last year from PA Consulting, titled “People and machines: From hype to reality,” supports this assertion, predicting that AI and automation will lead to a net gain in job numbers. This is pretty much in line with findings from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a pan-governmental economic body spanning 36 member countries, which noted that “employment in total may continue to rise” even if automation disrupts specific industries.
Automation has gained increased attention amid the great social distancing experiment sparked by COVID-19. But it’s too early to say whether the pandemic will expedite automation across all industries. Recent LinkedIn data suggests AI hiring slowed during the crisis, but there are plenty of cases where automation could help people adhere to social distancing protocols — from robot baristas and cleaners to commercial drones.
Of course, any discussion about automation invariably raises the question of what it means for jobs.