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Will AI kill jobs?

Nayela Deeba | Aug. 15, 2017
As AI transforms the way we work, what will the job market look like in future? IT leaders and experts weigh in at the GCIO Forum 2017.

GCIO Forum 2017 panel discussion on AI
Panellists debating on the impact of AI on the job market at GCIO Forum 2017.

The GCIO Forum 2017 in Singapore on 3 August concluded with IT leaders and experts sharing their thoughts about artificial intelligence (AI) and the impact it has on jobs.

Leong Mun Kew, deputy director, Institute of Systems Science National University of Singapore, said that AI today is still unable to execute tasks that require human intelligence but are able to perform routine tasks.

Agreeing with him, Prashant Agarwal, Director-EDGE (Group innovation) AIA, said that today's AI is mainly enabling automation. "In the best case scenario, AI will perform large parts of a task [that are usually done manually to improve productivity]," he said.  

Boonson Jenchaimahakoon, senior executive vice president, IT, at Government Savings Bank, added that his company might only need one-tenth of its current workforce after it deploys AI in future to reduce operational costs.

Even though things seem bleak, AI will also create new jobs and enable human workers to focus on more high-value work as they are freed from the mundane, manual tasks. However, workers will need to learn how to operate the AI-machines and upgrade their skills in order to benefit from that, said Agarwal.

Steven Miller, vice provost (research), Singapore Management University, added: "Similar to the steam engine, electrification, computerisation periods, AI will enable productivity increase and create new jobs. More so than job elimination, jobs will be transformed as AI is being adopted. Even though you can only anticipate job displacement now, everyone will be involved in the change process... which could take 10 years."

Since it is challenging to predict which jobs will be outdated in future, Jenchaimahakoon advised IT leaders to build an agile workforce. In order to do so, IT leaders need to continuously train their workers, ensure that they have enough knowledge on the latest technology trends, and are able to work with other departments and also quickly adapt to changes. 

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