Although the issue of AI’s impact on employment has lost some steam, this question is still regularly brought up at my AI conferences. But let’s turn the question on it’s head and look at ‘why Artificial Intelligence won’t kill jobs’! Automation, while technically difference from AI, is often looped into the same conversation about AI taking away jobs. Let’s focus here on the most overlooked benefit of automation: It lowers the price of goods or services making them accessible to all, thereby increasing sales tenfold or even hundredfold.
AI Actually Creates Jobs!
In the process, jobs are also created for peripheral tasks related to those increased sales. And no, automation doesn’t only create jobs for automation and artificial intelligence engineers! Several recent concrete examples prove this point. For instance, Smartphones have been around for more than thirty years (Nokia 9000 for example) but their price/performance ratio was too high in the 90s for customers to really embrace them. Today’s smartphone market boom was created when BlackBerry dropped the price of its devices, and moreover offered a greater selection of available functions, made possible by the miniaturization of electronics produced by automated assembly lines. Apple’s touchscreen smartphone, also made possible by advances in automation, further expanded this market.
AI Democratizes Goods and Services
Another example is the drop in the average price of plane tickets by a factor of three, between 1995 and 2015. This explains the threefold increase in the number of tourists worldwide, prior to the Covid-19 crisis. Behind this drop in airline ticket prices were many technological advances related to automation in all its forms, including aircraft autopilots based on first generation AI. In turn, this increased number of tourists worldwide created a lot of indirect jobs, and not just for Airbus and Boeing engineers!
andIndeed, in our modern economies, automation indirectly creates jobs for everyone. In my latest book, “The Rise of the Cobot”, available on amazon.com, I explain how automation has an even stronger impact on service activities. If a service is automated, then its marginal cost becomes zero. The price of the service that you offer your customers no longer depends on its (quasi-nonexistent) production cost, but on the price that the customer is willing to pay for this service, and therefore on the return on investment that your service provides him.
Automation and AI won’t kill jobs! In fact, these technologies may create more jobs at a time when our economies need more. Executives must expand on the key point that artificial intelligence will create jobs, to reassure employees who fear it. I myself discuss it in detail during my lectures to Management Committees and at conferences.