It’s difficult to think of an industry that has not been affected by tech. And of course automation and AI (Artificial Intelligence) is a huge driver of this change. Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter came up with the concept of “Creative Destruction” to describe “the way technological progress improves the lives of many, but only at the expense of a smaller few,” states Investopedia. During this process, certain industries are destroyed, but the industries that replace them create new jobs. Let’s look at the impact of technology on a variety of industries.
Automation – what can we expect?
A recent study by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, reported in Techradar, found that 25% of jobs in the US – the more “repetitive ones”, as one might expect – are under direct threat from automation. The Future of Jobs Report 2018, put out by the World Economic Forum, confirms this. “Nearly 50% of companies expect that automation will lead to some reduction in their full-time workforce by 2022, based on the job profiles of their employee base today,” states the report.
Who is highest at risk? It appears that low-skilled workers, particularly those who work in the food service industry, could be replaced. This is already a reality for some waiters in Japan whose work has been taken over by robots. (Interestingly, the robots are controlled by people with severe physical disabilities.) Highly creative or technical positions are least likely to be automated.
However, all is not lost. New technology also creates jobs, which means you need people familiar with this new technology. The report conducted by the World Economic Forum found that “75 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines, while 133 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms.”
What are these emerging in-demand roles? Certain established roles that will experience increasing demand in the period up to 2022 include Software and Applications Developers, Data Analysts, and Ecommerce and Social Media Specialists. New specialist roles include AI and Machine Learning Specialists, Big Data Specialists, Information Security Analysts, User Experience and Human-Machine Interaction Designers, Robotics Engineers, and Blockchain Specialists. In essence, by 2022, “no less than 54% of all employees will require significant re- and upskilling,” explains the report.
Impact of technology on specific industries
Here are some industries that are likely to feel the impact of technology directly:
Bookkeepers and Accountants: According to the website Will Robots Take My Job, these jobs have a 98% chance of having their jobs automated. Whether your job is at risk from AI generally depends on four variables: does your job require that you come up with clever solutions, do you have to personally help others, does your work require negotiation and, interestingly, does your occupation need you to squeeze into small spaces (i.e. jobs that are routine, repetitive and predictable are more likely to be replaced)?
Lawyers: 20 corporate attorneys specializing in corporate law and contract review competed against AI to spot mistakes in Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). The outcome: AI achieved 94% accuracy versus 85% accuracy from the lawyers. Plus: it took the lawyers 92 minutes on average, whereas AI could spot errors in a staggering 26 seconds! This doesn’t bode well for the law profession.
Medicine: Tech could prove to be even better at diagnosis than doctors. In fact, Stanford researchers developed a health screening program to distinguish between cancerous and non-cancerous moles with more than 90% accuracy – that beats the human dermatologists.
In closing, the impact of technology on virtually every industry cannot be underestimated. We will all be affected. “Unless you are 80 years old or something, you will have to repeatedly reinvent yourself in the coming decade – you’ll probably change your job a number of times,” says Yuval Harari, famous historian and author of 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. Perhaps it’s time to think about upskilling. If you want to learn programming skills to stay relevant, consider enrolling on a HyperionDev online bootcamp in Full Stack Web Development, Data Science or Software Engineering. You can also trial one of these courses for free. If online learning is not your thing, you could enrol for an immersive, face-to-face Web Developer or Software Engineering course in Cape Town or Johannesburg.