Another report on AI and the job market

1 min read

Could the impact of artificial intelligence and robots on people’s jobs be less than previously thought?

According to a new OECD report that could very well be the case. Compared to an influential 2013 forecast from Oxford University which suggested that as many as 47% of jobs in the US and 35% in the UK were at "high risk" of being automated out of existence in the coming years, the OECD puts those figures at 10% and 12% respectively.

While workers will have to contend with significant changes the OECD said that the figures from the Oxford University survey exaggerated the impact of automation due to it grouping jobs together with the same name.

Significant though the changes are, those figures would suggest it will be manageable. The university’s previous findings had been very influential and had informed projections made by the Bank of England on the impact of automation on the future jobs market.

It does warn, however, that for younger people it could prove harder to find work in the future. Why? Well entry-level posts look like they will have a much a higher risk of automation than jobs requiring more experience.

While the OECD said that the impact of automation was less than expected overall, it predicted that 14% of jobs across 32 surveyed member nations were at high risk of being lost, high risk being defined as a 70% chance the role would be lost to automation. That amounts to 66 million posts, so not insignificant.

The report added that a further 32% of jobs faced significant upheaval.

The OECD report also found that there was no measurable evidence that AI was significantly impacting jobs that require higher levels of education and skill. By contrast lower-skilled jobs involving routine tasks faced significantly more impact than previous waves of automation.

Another report then. But as some experts have said, these reports should be treated with caution if not a large pinch of salt.

Many are failing to take into account, the accelerating improvements seen in AI and automation.

While the report from the OECD paints a more benign picture of the impact of technology on the workforce of the future, it is just as possible that within a few years that impact could be far more significant with the role of machines more pervasive than anyone expects.

Whatever the future holds, we should be looking seriously at what may need to be done to adapt the workforce to a very different world.