Robot uprisings are a popular trope in science fiction, but in the real world, one of the biggest worries surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) is its effect on the employment market. Specifically, the notion that machines will cause many human workers to lose their jobs.
A new forecast from Gartner predicts that job cuts are on the way, but on balance, AI will create more jobs than it eliminates in 2020.
That year, the technology research group expects that 1.8 million jobs will give way to AI. However, the technology will produce 2.3 million jobs, more than enough to offset the loss.
The manufacturing sector will be the hardest hit by AI-fueled job losses through 2019. Healthcare, education and public-sector organizations will see increased job demand, predicted Gartner.
"Many significant innovations in the past have been associated with a transition period of temporary job loss, followed by recovery, then business transformation and AI will likely follow this route," commented Svetlana Sicular, research vice president at Gartner, in a Dec. 13 announcement.
"Unfortunately, most calamitous warnings of job losses confuse AI with automation — that overshadows the greatest AI benefit — AI augmentation — a combination of human and artificial intelligence, where both complement each other," continued Sicular.
Gartner predicts that AI augmentation will have a significant impact on the global economy and worker's lives in the next few years. An estimated $2.9 trillion in business value will be created and 6.2 billion hours in worker productivity will be reclaimed in 2021, said the analyst firm.
AI's productivity-boosting capabilities are a detriment to the millions of low- to mid-level jobholders who may see their positions cut. On the flipside, Gartner expects the technology to create job opportunities for millions of managers and highly-skilled workers. AI will also help boost the ranks of low-skill, entry-level employees.
In the meantime, AI will wend its way into the workplace, changing how work gets done for many employees. A fifth of all workers who perform nonroutine tasks will be using AI to do their jobs by 2022.
"Companies are just beginning to seize the opportunity to improve nonroutine work through AI by applying it to general-purpose tools," stated Gartner research vice president Craig Roth. "Once knowledge workers incorporate AI into their work processes as a virtual secretary or intern, robo-employees will become a competitive necessity."
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.