Virat Singh

The remarkable proliferation and enhancement in the area of technology domain including AI, Block chain has been so significant that many analysts are comparing it to the dawn of the industrial revolution.

History is a testimony to the fact that in the long run technology is a net creator of jobs, generating multitude of new jobs and unleashing demand for existing ones. While productivity sprouts, and then swells, the average real wages stagnates for decades, and then trumps productivity growth. This leads to a virtuous cycle of boosting demand, employment, upending incomes and more prosperity & leisure.

Creation always triumphs destruction

Machines will be competing for half of all employment opportunities. And the competition won’t be fair. A majority of the 10000 global businesses surveyed believe artificial intelligence and robotics will purge over 40% of existing jobs, impacting 60% of businesses by 2025.

Countries all around the world are already seeing a shift in labour market and experiencing shift in the kind of labour .Employment shifts can be difficult, causing appreciable (but) short-term labour displacement

India is behind the curve, but catching. Workers need to be ahead, modifying skills and learning new ones at an accelerating pace. Bill Gates echoed; three skills to survive the job market: science, engineering and economics.

History is comforting. Extrapolation is a ‘safe’ way to predict the future. The optimists are ‘counting’ on history. ‘If technology could really obliterate jobs, no one would have any work’. This has merit.

However the indication is that history may not repeat itself. While the effect and scope of disruption may be similar, the automation of this decade is likely to be direr, certainly more disruptive and expeditious.

A factor that may impact the job market is the velocity and rate of adoption on one hand and the ‘span’ of automation on the other. If they move in ‘parallel’ we have a bigger problem.

Artificial intelligence supports machines that exhibit human-level intelligence, and are capable of making informed decisions. Over the last decade these robots have reached an astonishingly accurate level of precision and, ready take over our jobs. They are efficient and effective.

Closer home, there are many careers at risk. While most are low- or mid-level, many, even in the ‘aspired’ professions such as medicine, business, and law are at threat.

The algorithm will replace the loan officer

The shift will be largely driven by technologies that digitize life and work, including verifiable digital identity, the cloud, digital payments, automation of knowledge work and the mobile internet.

The financial sector is a prime target. The industry is increasingly investing in the field of machine learning. The effect is already visible; tellers and accountants are no longer getting hired.

Then there is the health care sector. Doctors see artificial intelligence affecting their work as well. Robots have evolved, and are more efficient than professional radiologist or surgeons.

Also Read: AI Is Problem Solver More Than Economy Booster: Task Force Chairman

Law is another profession that is increasingly getting automated. The pace is accelerating. The tedious jobs involving browsing through boxes of paperwork and legal documents to identify some sort of pattern, or a break, in it is done better by machines.

Some can breathe easy

There are some fields which are safe for now. AI is taking over jobs, but defendants would still need human persuasion to win the case, as doctors will be needed ‘heal’ the ill. While self-driving cars are the rage in the West, don’t expect to see them in India for quite a while. Technology won’t understand, less withstand the Indian traffic and roads. As such, driving jobs are secure for now.

Safe to say artificial intelligence impacts every profession and almost every industry, some today; surly many tomorrow.

However, this may not be such a bad thing. The industrial revolution forced people to pick up higher-level skills, driving them to better paying and less intensive jobs. Automation will create opportunity to ‘work’ better jobs. India with a strong service sector will benefit.

Challenge Plenty, Opportunities galore

Health care will be disrupted too. IOT and other digital tools will help augment the shortage of medical staff, reduce delivery cost, and serve the rural poor better. Automation in the financial services will create an economic value of about $150 billion, enhancing financial inclusion, the bedrock of inclusive growth.

Technology is the biggest leveler. Blended learning, MOOCs, will transform the way we learn, reduce cost and enhancing ‘learning from education’.

Similarly, automation may finally ‘double’ farmer’s income. Genetically modified crops, Hybrid & precision farming, ‘mobile Internet supported’ market information & farm extension will ‘grow’ another $80 billion in the farm.

Automation will make the public distribution more efficient, curbing leakage, enhancing targeted benefits.

The era of value

Technology enabled solutions will drive immense value. However to seize the full potential we will need both supply and demand side of the fence to meet.

Every rupee invested in broadband infrastructure and the likes will be a multiplier. Economies that implement coherent policy reforms to translate the potential of technology into higher incomes and employment will enjoy higher economic growth and productivity.

(Virat Singh is studying Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison USA)