How AI could create more jobs than it replaces

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It’s the stuff of sci-fi dystopia: increasingly intelligent AI algorithms slowly become more capable, eventually putting millions of humans out of work. At best, we end up as overweight blobs, carried around on floating chairs, as depicted in Wall-E. At worst, AI rises against us and enslaves mankind in a simulation, Matrix-style.

In reality, neither of these things will happen. In fact, a new report suggests AI will actually be a net job creator in the UK, generating 7.2 million new positions by 2037, around 200,000 more than it will take away. But how would this happen?

So far, the job-eroding effects of AI are much more obvious than its potential for job-generation. Day-to-day, we’ve seen supermarket cashiers and bank tellers replaced by automated machines. While jobs like these will continue to be automated, an array of new positions are being created behind the scenes, creating career opportunities for millions of technically-adept workers.

Engineers and developers will craft new AI programs

The most obvious way the rise of AI will create new job opportunities is in development. Machine learning may have taken AI to new levels of intelligence, but people are still needed to create AI programs in the first place.

The demand for AI-developing talent has been described as “exploding” as the AI-related jobs of data scientist, software architect, machine learning engineer and software engineer are some of the ten most in-demand jobs on the planet.

As the education curriculum adapts to teach students about computer engineering, so too will the number of candidates for these jobs, and the number of people working on new and exciting ways to develop AI programs.

AI consultants will be consistently in-demand

As AI becomes more widespread, so too will the people who understand it. Whenever a business—small, medium or large—implements an AI-powered system, they will need to enlist the services of someone who knows how it works, and who can help it run smoothly. This is leading to a sharp rise in AI consultants, in both freelance and full-time capacities.

This is most evident in the field of SAP; originally an enterprise management software, SAP has expanded to include AI-based applications and programs. EurSAP lists a number of consulting roles on a permanent or contract basis through its specialist SAP job board, allowing companies to bring in new talent who will help them adapt to using AI systems.

As more businesses begin to use AI, the number of consulting roles of this nature will continue to grow. And as AI becomes more dominant, it’s not completely unfeasible that nearly every company of a certain size will have need to hire them.

AI creates entrepreneurial opportunities

So far, most of AI’s job-creating impact appears to have been in the IT sector. Anyone lacking comprehensive knowledge of programming will struggle to fill any of these roles without extensive training. However, this is only half of the picture. While developers will no doubt benefit, AI’s biggest contributions to employment will come from the countless businesses which spring up as a result of the technology.

AI software presents a huge entrepreneurial opportunity. Businesspeople can set up new companies based around algorithms or applications of AI which will need to employ not just developers, but managers, secretaries, marketing officers, HR departments, copywriters, graphic designers and a whole crew of other relevant employees in order to run smoothly.

It’s not just new companies that will create non-developer jobs in the AI sector. Tech giants like Apple and Google have grown extensive AI branches. Google’s DeepMind is said to employ up to 600 employees, with some of the best-paid workers in Silicon Valley among them.

With job opportunities like these, it’s clear that AI will have a much more positive impact on our working lives than many expected.

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