AI will transform the future

In the early 19th century, most of the world’s population was employed on manual, back-breaking agricultural work – then automation increased the productivity of farmers more than tenfold whilst reducing their numbers from being the majority of the workforce to less than 2% – and the many outplaced moved on to new, better-paid jobs in the manufacturing sector

In the 20th century, automation increased the productivity of those manufacturing workers whilst reducing their number to less than 15% so that knowledge-based and service industries employ over 80% of G7 workforces

Now, in the 21st century, automation in the form of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is beginning to transform the way we work and live, especially in the way we produce both goods and services and have to meet increasing expectations for response times and product and service quality

AI is simply better software – surveillance, security and transcription are several areas where machine learning will make things faster and cheaper, whether in an operating room, jail, factory or courthouse – you will be able to transcribe everything that is being said, and see things if they are safety violations, even on a construction site

With AI, you can even speak to a machine as if it were a person and tell it exactly what you’re looking for – it knows what you mean, allows plenty of room for error, then produces the document – it thus saves a lot of time and effort, and increases productivity as employees are left with more time to get on with their work proper

Overall, AI will free up some labour which can be re-trained/ re-directed to help care for the elderly, reduce class sizes or help kids with special needs – of course, such labour must also be offered an adequate income for them and their families to ensure they’re not attracted to joining the dole queue

According to James Walker, a researcher at the CPS – Centre for Policy Studies in Western Australia – “AI uses algorithms that learn from raw data in a process loosely comparable to that of a human infant” – except they have vastly more storage capacity

In particular, robots are increasingly performing more of the functions and tasks we workers did up until only a few years ago, many of which were a drag on morale, some leading to burnout, viz:

  • Replace human jobs:
    • In peacetime, manual repetitive jobs, low-level routine administration work, legal precedent searches, top-class university lecturing, accountancy auditing, transport driving (trams, tractors and trains) and process controlling using sensors
    • In wars, compare WW1 when millions of men and women were used as cannon-fodder with a possible WW3 when it will be fought by a few hundred elite special forces and remotely sited technicians controlling drones, missiles and cyberbombs
  • Replace human tasks – especially those causing much waste and inefficiency found in most businesses e.g. issuing and personalising sales and marketing emails, booking meetings, listing actions after meetings, assigning work, copying information between systems, preparing reports for executives, file management and legal contract analyses
  • Augment human jobs – aka human-computer symbiosis – advisory support, search and selection of information, voice and text translation, fraud detection
  • Create new human jobs requiring higher reasoning, critical thinking, complex problem-solving, knowledge learning, creative design, new health and lifestyles services e.g. algorithm data scientists, robotics engineers
  • Conduct new tasks humans cannot do – analysing data for advanced insights e.g. cures for diseases – working at incredible speeds and levels of precision with vast volumes of data that are well beyond human capabilities


Clearly, as Viktor Shvets, Global Equity Strategist at Macquarie Group, Australia, points out: “There’s a declining return on humans because of the inferior capacity of humans to achieve productivity growth compared to machines”

McKinsey believe 5% of current occupations could be automated entirely and some 60% have at least 30% of their activities automated – and these %’s will only rise over time

The Economist goes further: “As machines become better at doing things, the human role in generating faster productivity growth will converge towards zero – at that point, so long as society expects everyone to work, all spending in the economy will go towards services for which it is crucial that productivity does NOT grow, in order to provide jobs for everyone – society could seemingly be both characterised by technological abundance and paralysed by (Baumol’s) cost disease”

Overall, the productivity gains when most human work is done by AI will be enormous – its potential is unlimited, and unstoppable

Tasks we humans would not do, except for money, will be mostly automated – tasks we already like to do, for no money, will come to dominate our lives

The future is bright indeed

Welcome to the new unworking class






Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.