42 APRIL 2018
The New Zealand economy is continually creating
new jobs while eliminating jobs that are
no longer required. Over the next 40 years,
more than 10 million jobs will be displaced by
normal expected market changes, so even in
a worst-case scenario of a million jobs lost to
AI over this time, this only represents 10% of
the total change. Even if AI-related job elimination
were additional to the existing churn,
it would be a relatively modest influence.
Every year businesses change the number
and type of jobs they need to be successful.
When jobs are no longer needed by firms,
workers lose their jobs and most find other
work suited to their capabilities or re-train.
A number of sectors have highlighted their
aging workforce and the expected risks for
society if this is not proactively addressed.
Some sectors are reporting an annual decline
The arrival of artificial intelligence into businesses and society is not
likely to produce anywhere near the number of job losses most people
think. Instead, says Ben Reid of the Artificial Intelligence Forum of New
Zealand, AI may help address potential labour shortages in food and
beverage, and solve looming demographic challenges.
with more workers retiring, than entering
these roles. This is particularly evident in
health and education with growing shortages
of various healthcare workers and teachers.
The ability of AI to automate routine tasks may
present an opportunity for its use in helping to
offset this shrinking labour pool in these and
other sectors. The imperative of continued
improvement to social services in the face
of increasing labour pressures is expected
to drive investment into systems to support
the remaining workers. It may also mean
that workers are able to do more interesting,
fulfilling jobs. AI has the potential to drive
numerous economic benefits across most
sectors, from improved labour productivity,
more efficient development of products and
services, to increased consumer demand.
Underlying this analysis is the assumption that
"AI has the
human labour substituted by AI is reallocated
to other productive tasks within each industry.
AI has broad applicability across all industries:
our research showed that financial services,
manufacturing, construction and professional
services have the greatest potential to benefit
from labour efficiencies from AI. But there are
significant opportunities for agriculture, travel
and tourism and healthcare as well. AI will
become an essential enabler of the precision
agriculture required to produce higher quality
product and increase sustainability to feed
the world’s growing population. This will take
time. Firstly, AI technology must be adopted
by businesses, who will then need to identify
ways to transform their processes to harness
the new capabilities. This will take years for
the full potential to be realised.
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