Why AI Will Create New Jobs, Not Just Replace Old Ones

Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 1am

You’ve probably noticed the hype surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) and how robots are coming to take your job. In fact, many are worried about the future of work and whether there will be ways for humans to earn money in the coming decades.

But those at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Business say not to worry. Humans are, in some ways, irreplaceable — at least for the foreseeable future. That should give you some confidence because the MIT community has been studying robotics, AI, and machine learning for years now — long before it was trendy, says Jonathan Ruane, lecturer at the Sloan School.

 This is a long time coming

“AI is nothing new at MIT,” adds Ruane.

What is different now is how many people in the outside world—those who aren’t studying these advancements on a regular basis—are aware of it. However, Ruane warns that laypeople are misinformed and end up believing some mythology along the way.

Mainstream media keeps talking about how AI is going to make some jobs obsolete. This is a common occurrence when a major technological advancement begins to take shape.

“With every new technology that comes along, people fear jobs will be lost,” says Ruane. “Yes, some jobs are lost. But new ones are created.”

Indeed, he points to the fact that Japan and South Korea are among the countries putting automation to the most use, yet they also have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the world.

Learn the lingo

Ruane stresses that AI is a misnomer. What the world is really talking about is advanced analytics, but AI and robots are sexier and more accessible to the general public.

“There’s too much hype,” he says. “It’s hard to hear the signal from the noise. But the hype is bringing resources, so you have to take the good with the bad.”

When scholars, who do know about and understand AI get in a room to discuss the future, they aren’t talking about jobs, adds Ruane. They talk about the technology itself to start, look at the impact on the individual to some extent and how the technology affects tasks, not jobs, says Ruane. Certainly, if a machine can handle a number of related tasks, it could mean eliminating one whole job, but it won’t happen all at once.

Finally, the conversation veers to how these changes will influence the firm, industry, and then the world economy.

Humans have some job security

“The most difficult thing [to explain] is human beings have skills that we call intelligence,” says Ruane. “You see AI beat you at chess and think, ‘It can do everything I can.’ But it can’t.”

 What Ruane is trying to say is the robot may be superb at chess, as it’s coded to be number one at that game, but it might not have the capability to execute another task. It’s not sentient, he adds.

AI is far from its pinnacle

In fact, the technology still has a long way to go. In the meantime, humans can address the issue of the future of work.

“There’s so much potential,” says Ruane. “Policy makers and leaders are thinking of the importance of labor and must be conscious of the human side.”

That is where future MBAs can have impact. Millennials care deeply about the great challenges facing the world, including the uneven distribution of wealth and the future of work, says Ruane.

Trust in future MBAs

“We give them the tools to analyze a situation,” he adds. “If they’re coming from a good place, and I think they are, then it will work itself out.”

Anyone who doubts Millennials, he adds, is not paying attention to who they are.

“Extracting profits is not the only thing driving them,” he adds. “I feel it on campus.”

What is coming?

Still, AI will bring with it a huge transition cost; people are going to have to bend with the technology. In other words, there might be jobs available to people; they just might not be the kind of jobs they have always had.

As a result, lifelong learning is going to become the norm rather than the exception. Companies will have to invest in more frequent training. Humans need to be open to change and take a big deep breath when considering their future work life.

“The winners won’t be the robots or the people,” says Ruane. “The winners in the future will be people who can use computers to do their jobs and understand advanced analytics.”


Written by Francesca Di Meglio

Francesca Di Meglio has written about higher education for two decades. She covered business schools and all aspects of management education for what became Bloomberg Businessweek from May 2004 to December 2013. Di Meglio was the consultant editor for the book Admitted: An Interactive Workbook for Getting into a Top MBA Program (85 Broads Publishing, 2011), which was written by admissions consultant Betsy Massar. In addition, she is a family travel and parenting blogger at the Italian Mamma website.

Originally posted on www.topmba.com

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