Fear not humans: Artificial intelligence to create millions of jobs, predicts PwC

Fear not humans: Artificial intelligence to create millions of jobs, predicts PwC
Artificial intelligence (AI) and related technologies will generate as many jobs as they displace over the next 20 years, according to a report by audit firm PwC which focused mainly on the United Kingdom.

The research found that while AI could displace roughly seven million jobs in the country, it could also create 7.2 million roles, resulting in a modest net boost of around 200,000 jobs. It has also estimated that about 20 percent of jobs would be automated over the next 20 years and no sector would be unaffected.

Technologies such as robotics, drones and driverless vehicles would replace human workers in some areas, but also create many additional jobs as productivity and real incomes rise and new and better products are developed.

In the health and social work sector the number of people employed could rise by almost one million, while jobs in manufacturing could fall by roughly 25 percent, a net loss of almost 700,000 roles.

“Major new technologies, from steam engines to computers, displace some existing jobs but also generate large productivity gains,” PwC’s Chief Economist John Hawksworth said in a press release. “This reduces prices and increases real income and spending levels, which in turn creates demand for additional workers,” he added.

“Our analysis suggests the same will be true of AI, robots and related technologies, but the distribution of jobs across sectors will shift considerably in the process.”

The report highlighted that London, which is home to more than a quarter of the UK’s professional, scientific and technical activities, will benefit the most from AI, with a 2.3 percent boost, or 138,000 extra jobs. The east Midlands is expected to see the biggest net reduction in jobs – 27,000 – a 1.1 percent drop.

AI and its potential impact on society has been the subject of debate for many years. In 2014, the late scientist Stephen Hawking told the BBC that the “development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in 2017 that we were in something of a “renaissance” and “golden age” when it came to machine learning and artificial intelligence.

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