The growing uptake of AI has led some to suggest it will destroy jobs and contribute to unemployment. However, Invisible Technologies Chief Financial Officer Joe Chittenden-Veal says the reverse is more likely.
“Any concerns of widespread job losses are completely overblown,” he argues. “Far from taking jobs, the reality is that the new technology is more likely to usher in a new era of prosperity - driving economic growth, creating new opportunities, and delivering more fulfilling employment.”
A New Wave of Growth
Despite holding this view, Chittenden-Veal acknowledges some workers and sectors will experience short-term pain.
“There will be labor displacement over the next few years,” he says. “Especially in sectors where there is a lot of administrative or routine work that can be better performed by AI. Intentional investment in workforce retraining will be crucial for minimizing the harm done by this displacement.”
This is supported by a recent Goldman Sachs report
, which states that AI could potentially expose the equivalent of up to 300 million full-time jobs to automation.
But this won’t necessarily lead to widespread layoffs, the report found, with two-thirds of all jobs likely to be only partly automated by AI.
Moreover, the positive effects would more than mitigate any short-term job losses, with increased AI takeup likely to drive global GDP up by US$7 trillion or 7% and lift productivity growth by 1.5 percentage points over the next 10 years.
Pushing the Productivity Frontier Forward
Chittenden-Veal also points to the many historical precedents that support this view.
“History is full of these examples - the mechanization of agriculture, the advent of the motor vehicle, developments in personal computing.”
Most recently, Chittenden-Veal notes, the internet has transformed how people gather and disseminate information, making research and communication far more accessible than ever before.
“People today are far more productive than 50 years ago,” he observes. “But this doesn't mean there’s less work to do. On the contrary, there’s more work to do because there’s more opportunity for value creation.”
“AI is going to accelerate that growth and value creation but not destroy work that needs to be done.”
“The amount of work in the world is infinite. There is no ceiling on the amount that can be done. It’s the productivity frontier we keep pushing forward.”
Three Types of Employment AI Will Create
With this in mind, Chittenden-Veal suggests AI is likely to create three main types of employment.
The first and most obvious will be those jobs involved directly in building and training AI models. While this group may not account for all the jobs AI will replace, it will still likely be much broader and more diverse than many might imagine.
“It won’t just be tech people training AI,” Chittenden-Veal says. “For instance, if a law firm is building a model to review and develop commercial contracts, it will be the lawyers that must train it.”
The second group of jobs AI will create are hybrid roles where a skilled or semi-skilled operator works with a model to deliver more efficient, more personalized, or much better outcomes. For instance, in the example above, lawyers will still be needed to maintain and refine any model they develop to make sure it continues to meet the firm’s - and their clients’ - needs.
“In this category, you might also have the AI-enabled teacher, who uses a model to deliver a personalized and engaging learning plan to all their students, but who is also needed to oversee that process and deliver help to the students when and where needed most.”
The third category of employment, Chittenden-Veal notes, is likely to be the jobs that we simply can’t yet envisage. It’s worth noting that the Goldman Sachs study found that as many as 60% of roles currently performed didn’t exist 70 years ago. These are the roles that can’t possibly be known until the technology becomes more established.
“Take, for example, the car,” Chittenden-Veal notes. “Its invention didn’t just create direct employment through manufacturers, service station owners, car dealers, and cab drivers; it fundamentally changed how we lived.”
“This led to indirect growth in sectors such as outdoor recreation, retail, and tourism. It also reorganized cities and created new ones - spurring a housing and construction boom in the suburbs.”
“Because people could live in bigger houses with more space, it even contributed to the growth of things like household appliance manufacturing because suddenly people had more space.”
“These are the kinds of indirect impacts AI will have that we just can’t envisage right now.”
Reimaging the Future of Work
Jay Kumar, SVP of Growth at Invisible Technologies, says that corporations and individuals must also make a call on how they intend to capitalize on the efficiencies AI brings.
“Essentially, we’re going to face this situation where humans get the best, most interesting work, and AI eventually does everything routine or mundane.”
But even this will bring its own challenges, Kumar says because studies
show professionals only have so many productive hours in a day, and most days are filled with busy work.
“The question is whether we decide to go down the route of working fewer hours - such as the Four Day Work Week - or whether we continue the same work patterns.”
“Beyond that, people and companies need to make a call on what AI should be allowed to do and what it shouldn’t. Human judgment will always need to be part of the equation here too.”