AI, robots and the effects on jobs

Recently it was reported that Tesla CEO had admitted his company had relied too heavily on robots for manufacturing its Model 3.

Elon Musk agreed in an interview that there had been an over-reliance on automation and too few human assembly line workers which had led to delays in producing the car.

It seems that we might have overrated the effects AI and automation could have on jobs.  Early in April The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) released a report which confirmed that previous forecasts had exaggerated the impact of automation because they had relied on a broad grouping together of jobs with the same title.

The OECD said a number of factors needed to be considered in a more nuanced way including whether:

  • computers and other human labour-replacing equipment have already been adopted
  • the role involves having to deal with complex social relationships, including caring for others and recognising cultural sensitivities
  • the post requires lots of creativity and complex reasoning
  • the job requires lots of physical manipulation of objects in a constantly changing work environment

Its new findings now predict that 14% of jobs across 32 surveyed member nations were at high risk over the next 20 years.  This compared with previous estimates by Oxford University in 2010 that put at high risk about 47% of jobs in the US in 2010 and 35% in the UK.

Not surprisingly, the higher the level of education and skill required for some jobs the less likely they were to be at risk from AI (Artificial Intelligence).

It seems that while the risks from AI and robots are there, they may not be as high as previously thought – at least for the time being!