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Digital Transformation vs jobs II

In the coming years the impact of AI and automation in the Western Countries will result in a net increase in jobs. Credit: Gartner

According to Gartner the combined deployment of automation and artificial intelligence in developed markets will start increasing jobs from 2020 on. This may not be the case in developing market where the insourcing of production by developed Countries, mostly Western European and US, will depress production and where skilled labour able to leverage on advanced technologies might not be ready available. Additionally, developing Countries may not be able to afford the investment needed to adopt new technologies on a large scale.

4 billion people, (2 billions already existing but today at the edges of the market for limited spending capabilities, plus 2 billions that will increase Earth population) will fuel demand.

However, we have already seen that production can be increased without increasing the number of jobs, an effect of manufacturing shifting from human labour to robots.

Artificial intelligence is expected to become pervasive but in order to do so it will need a context of open data. Closed data are not going to fuel the development of applications hence the increase of jobs.

In the longer term, say beyond 2025, the development of applications, software, will become more and more automated with a 48% probability assigned by Bloomberg to a fading away of computer programmers jobs. I spoke just few days ago with the president of a large system integrator company in Italy and he told me that they are looking into programming automation. It is a urgent need given the scarcity of human resources and the dynamics of the demand. In the longer term this may lead to a significant reduction in the number of human programmers.

The shift will be towards design and creativity, with an emphases on seamless interfaces, a crucial aspects as Industry 4.0 will bring the end users inside the production value chain.

This is a more general trend that started at the turn of the century with routine jobs taking a downturn and creative, non routine jobs, increasing.

If we look at a 20/25 year horizon we can see new jobs emerging and these will be leveraging on today’s shift to data. Bio-engineering, smart material, nanotech will be important area. Notice that the way these areas will be addressed will be by far based on AI to access and manipulate data.
We are seeing the first step being taken today along this novel approach. You don’t start from atoms but from bits and you are going to use bits to create those atoms assembly that fit your needs. Nanotech is already based on this, addictive manufacturing, at a macro scale is based on this (we are starting to design inks for the 3D printing in the cyberspace). The progress expected in understanding the relation between the phenotype and the genotype, largely based on AI looking a millions of genomes, will change both health care approach and the idea of sustainable ecosystems. As an example we will have bioengineers changing people diets by engineering new symbiotic bacteria to populate our digestive system.

Many of these jobs will fleeting both in output (what you are supposed to do) and in input (what you are supposed to know).

Hence a very high dynamics in the work force.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.