What does AI mean for the workforce?

By Simon Moss, Associate Director & Head of Business Development

There is much doom and gloom in the media about robotics, automation and artificial intelligence stealing jobs, sending hundreds of thousands of workers onto the breadline while Skynet and the rest plot our ultimate downfall.

Fortunately, there is an alternative viewpoint. I was at an event last week where the issue of AI (and the data needed to drive it) was a prominent feature. The speaker in question, a prominent UK broadcaster, talked at length about the requirement for humans to set creative questions in order to make the most of the volume of data we as a society are now creating.

He quoted Dr Richard Oram – and the line has stayed with me ever since: “The room for creative questions using this resource (data) is mind blowing.”

The speaker (whom I am deliberately not naming) went on to argue that artificial intelligence and the like shouldn’t mean the traditional workforce is seen as a cost to be cut, but rather for humans to be more aspirational. Let the mundane be automated by machines, leaving humans to work on more complex tasks. In short, being creative.

And I like that as a premise.

Rather than being fearful of data driven technology, we should be more trusting. Another stat that caught my eye was the trust we have in mobile technology. There are seven billion people on the planet, of which 2.5 billion have no bank account. However, there are more than 7 billion mobile phones.

Given we would all consider a bank account as fairly fundamental, it is amazing to consider that the humble phone is comfortably considered as more essential. Particularly in areas of Africa, where mobile banking is the norm and, in many cases, these areas are blazing a trail in connected finance.

I would like to see more positive stories on the impact these three mega trends will have on the workforce of tomorrow. Let’s hope someone is listening!