How should business leaders approach the issues of job transformation and displacement?

Q&A series with Tracey Groves, founder and director of Intelligent Ethics, on AI and ethics

I prefer to think it’s more about job augmentation rather than job displacement.  AI will be able to enrich our lives through the optimisation of the best of technology, and the creation of more skilled jobs in areas such as engineering, data science, data analytics and data governance.   It will also offer us the chance to augment jobs both from a quantitative and a qualitative perspective.   For example, recent research from Manoj Saxena, Executive Chairman, CognitiveScale, tells us that there is likely to be approx. 8m jobs displaced by technology compared to the 1.2bn jobs being created.


We should acknowledge, however, that inevitably there will be a replacement of low value, processed and task-driven jobs that will lead to greater efficiency through automation. However, not only will this create a platform to develop a more skilled, technology-enabled workforce, it will also increase the need for key capabilities such as the ability to engage, communicate and relate to a wider range of stakeholders including customers and wider society, where the need for human insight and interaction at critical points in time will be even more crucial to maintain high quality relationships.


From what I see in the market, corporates are now seeking to articulate the key skills, expertise and strategic capabilities that are required for a future technology-enabled workforce rather than narrowing it down to a granular, task-driven job description that we are more used to in today’s world.


So, Responsible Business leaders must ask themselves: how can we educate, equip and enable our existing and future employees to be fit for the future and unlock the full potential that AI and new technologies will bring?


We should have confidence that as a society we have successfully transitioned through huge industrial change and seen enormous job transformation before, whether it was from horse to motor car or from loom to heavy industry.  What is different about this fourth industrial revolution is not only the accelerated pace and the vast scale of change that is taking place  but, most critically, the role that Responsible Business plays in determining the journey for all of us.


The time to act is now.

Tracey 4
Tracey Groves, founder and director of Intelligent Ethics, on AI and ethics




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