AI will not be job killer - IBM research

AI will not be job killer - IBM research

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, new technologies such as AI will actually kill off few jobs, according to research from the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab.

AI and machine learning are already changing the way that businesses operate. In the financial services sector, the technology is being used in everything from customer service to credit decisioning to fighting fraud.

Earlier this year research from IHS Markit warned that banks piling into AI could spell tens of millions of job losses but the new IBM report suggests this is mistaken.

The MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab used machine learning to analyse 170 million online job postings in the US between 2010 and 2017, finding that task are shifting between people and machines - but the change is slow.

The overall demand for tasks that make up occupations are down between 2010 and 2017. Across more than 18,500 tasks analysed, for each occupation, on average, workers were asked to perform 3.7 fewer tasks overall in 2017 than seven years earlier.

However, as technology reduces the cost of some tasks, the value of the remaining tasks that make up an occupation increases. Tasks that are grounded in intellectual skill and insight as well as require, to some degree, physical flexibility, common sense, judgment, intuition, creativity, and spoken language have tended to increase in value.

In financial services, the value of industry knowledge has risen; the annual wages for industry knowledge tasks have increased over the seven years by an average of more than six thousand dollars.

The report acknowledges that AI has only just begun to transform work and that the rate of change is likely to accelerate. But, IBM - which is at the vanguard of AI - says that workers have time to adapt by learning or honing skills that require innovation, creative thinking, or deep insight and experience.

"As new technologies continue to scale within businesses and across industries, it is our responsibility as innovators to understand not only the business process implications, but also the societal impact," says Martin Fleming, chief economist, IBM. "To that end, this empirical research from the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab sheds new light on how tasks are reorganizing between people and machines as a result of AI and new technologies."

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