There’s been a lot written about the predicted benefits (and threats) of artificial intelligence (AI). Now some recent research by McKinsey Consulting is suggesting that the early economic impacts of AI will be negative. Gains in GDP from greater use of AI tech should increase after some initial pain however, revealing a “productivity dividend” in the long term. The difficulty is that the benefits of AI will not be shared equally.
If you are in relatively low skilled work such as food server, driver or production worker, expect to find fewer opportunities and lower incomes as improving robotics technologies eliminates more line jobs. On the other hand, if you are highly educated with skills in software development, robotics, engineering or design – the world is your oyster. Unfortunately some nations with low skill bases that sit near the bottom of the value chain will suffer most.
There’s nothing new about automation however. Mechanisation of agriculture lifted global food production whilst conveniently freeing up millions of farm labourers to enlist in becoming cannon fodder within numerous ill-advised military adventures during the 20th Century. Digitisation already eliminated entire workforces of office drones and civil servants during my own working lifetime. So the opportunity is surely to focus on better productivity and much more fulfilling work for everyone with AI enhancing and improving human work. Is that too idealistic?
At a time when the issue of equality is never far from our minds, or that of the media, we may need to think more carefully about who will be most impacted by greater deployment of AI into society. Expect that debate to continue for some time. In the meantime, you can stake your claim at the AI frontier by securing your .AI domain name with iwantmyname.