Editor’s Note: This is a guest post Larry Reed – technical writer with DesignRush. His opinions are his own.
Artificial intelligence is poised to become the technology that will define our age.
What was once little more than a theoretical notion used by scientists in research labs, is now becoming a part of our everyday reality – self-driving cars, smart factories, search engines, and video-game bots are some of the more prominent examples of AI tech currently in use. And as more and more AI-based solutions start becoming available on the market, their role in the world of business is bound to increase.
One of the more pertinent questions in this context is that of the relationship between AI and labour.
We can think of AI as being logical machines, and machines have traditionally been used in business to expand production, increase productivity, and reduce costs. Often times, the introduction of machines into the workplace meant that certain jobs became obsolete, and were replaced by novel ones.
Knowing which jobs are likely to become phased out as a result of AI is therefore essential for preparing your business for the future. To find out more about the potential uses of AI in the workplace, and the kinds of jobs they are likely to take over from their human counterparts, read on!
1. Manual labour
Historically speaking, machines were introduced into the production process in order to assist or replace manual labour. AI powered robots are simply a continuation of this process.
The main advantage to using AI in areas such as construction, storage, transport, or agriculture, is its capacity to work at peak performance levels for long stretches of time. This is not something that humans can easily achieve in any line of work, and it is pretty much impossible when performing physically taxing manual labour.
While AI robots are good at heavy lifting and fast motions, they are still somewhat lacking in terms of dexterity. As a result, manual labour jobs that require a lot of finesse will probably still be performed by human workers in the near future. This balance will shift as AI becomes more attuned to controlling mechanical appendages, but for the time being humans will work alongside machines, instead of outright being replaced by them.
2. Accounting and bookkeeping
Accounting and bookkeeping are two areas where AI has been making substantial inroads lately.
Jobs in these fields involve the systematic processing of large amounts of generic data, a task which is often tedious, time-consuming, and difficult, at least from a human perspective. AI on the other hand is inherently well-suited to performing such tasks, which is why it is starting to replace professional accountants.
The advantage of AI for accounting and similar tasks is the reduction of mistakes caused by human error, greater efficiency, and significantly lower expenditures. On the other hand, while the demand for accountants is likely to decrease, the need for software engineers capable of creating custom AI accounting software will only rise. As a result, accountants will probably transition to having more of an advisory role in business.
3. Customer service
A couple of decades ago, one would assume by default that customer service departments would be staffed exclusively by humans in the foreseeable future. However, recent advancements in AI are calling these assumptions into question.
With the development of disciplines such as natural language processing and natural language generation, it has become possible to teach machines how to produce output that closely resembles the way humans write and speak. And you link an AI of this sort to an interface such as an instant messaging client, what you get is a chatbot, an automated conversation system which can be used for a variety of roles, including customer service.
Such chatbots can be programmed to automatically answer common customer queries, thus reducing the need for low-level service reps. The main advantage to using chatbots for customer service is their ability to handle multiple customers at once on a global scale, with much lower overhead compared to running a full customer service department.
4. Law and administration
Technological progress has traditionally had little impact on the practice of law. However, this reluctance to implement technological solutions to legal problems has largely been a matter of principle, and not of some inherent opposition between legal work and technology.
In reality, a substantial portion of legal proceedings are a lot more routine than professionals would like to admit, and if a job involves a lot of routine work, there is a good chance that an AI can excel at it. While the majority of legal work still requires humans agents, AI systems can help perform tasks such as legal discovery, contract creation, statistical analysis of case files, and others.
As a result, we can expect to see less low-level law jobs available, and more room for individuals that combine legal expertise with programming knowledge. Whether it’s giving advice on how to turn laws into algorithms, or investigating the legal frameworks for technologies such as AI-powered cars, there will be plenty of job opportunities available for legal experts in the future.
5. Marketing and sales
AI is starting to see extensive use in the field of marketing, especially in its digital incarnation. This is largely because marketing can be divided up into a number of smaller tasks, each of which has ample room for AI automation. As a consequence, AI tools may render certain marketing jobs completely obsolete.
For instance, telemarketers are almost guaranteed to be phased out in the near future – the task of repeatedly calling phone numbers and delivering the same sales pitch over and over again is better left in the hands of an AI, than a human sales rep. Digital ad placement is another aspect of marketing work that is better left to AI algorithms.
Platforms such as Albert AI are being used by numerous modern SEO agencies and other digital marketing firms to predict in real time how much to bid on particular advertising keywords for the best return on investment, allowing marketers to focus on the more creative aspects of their work.
AI will create new jobs
AI is set to change the shape of the workforce in a dramatic way in the future, but this does not necessarily mean that human employees will be cut out of the equation.
In fact, the rise of AI is bound to create a whole range of new kinds of jobs, ones that require both domain knowledge and technical expertise. On the other hand, jobs that are reliant on repetition and manual labour will tend to disappear as more advanced forms of AI get discovered.