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Will AI and Automation Create More Jobs than They Displace?

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As part of our ongoing series of weekly features we asked our expert panel and contributor network;

Will AI and Automation Create More Jobs than They Displace?

Our panel’s thoughts can be found below, but if you would like to contribute to this feature, or any of our future features, please contact [email protected]

Business Doctors Cardiff

Graham L Morgan | Managing Director

Across the business community there are numerous low skill, low paid jobs that Business Owners find it tough to recruit into. With progression in automation and artificial intelligence the opportunity exists to find new innovative ways to undertake some of these tasks in the most efficient and effective way for the Business and its customers. We should not fear the march of automation and associated intelligence but embrace it. Many businesses could find new growth trajectory at home and overseas by integrating new approaches into their current and future models and this can only be good for the immediate communities and supply chains.

With innovation moving at a rate of knots the only constant is change and those businesses that do not embrace new innovative practices will most certainly loose competitive advantage. In the new world there will be many new roles from interpreting artificial intelligence and applying the learning to annual servicing of robots. In the same way there are roles today that did not exist a decade ago we will find the same applies in the immediate future and with more personal time there will be different demands for new services.

Exciting times ahead!

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Barclays

Karen Thomas | Head of Corporate Banking

A move towards AI and more automation should be embraced as a focus on reducing costs and increasing productivity, as competitiveness will only increase in the future. Whilst there is a natural tendency to fear this approach, thinking the number of overall jobs in the labour market will reduce, it is more likely that automation and AI will improve productivity requiring different jobs as a result of it.

Education and retraining will therefore be critical to adapting to new technology.  We need to spend more time nurturing a culture of adaptability and lifelong learning to remain best placed….gone are the days of a job as we know it for life.

That said, whilst there may be an increasing pace of AI and automation there may be economic, legal and regulatory constraints that mean it doesn’t proceed as fast as we first feared.  The arrival of the internet is a great example, many feared its arrival would be the end of some traditional administration roles but the regulation associated with it significantly slowed its pace.

Many are already assessing the ability of humans and robots to work together.  The advent of AI assisting in the home for example via Google, Siri or Alexa certainly hasn’t reduced the need for parenting but it has created some time and maybe a few funny moments.

Proceeding with prudence may not be exciting but it will ensure we are best placed for the future with Robots and automation!

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NatWest Cymru

Adrian Coles | Corporate and Commercial Relationship Director

Technology is an enabler and should be viewed as that. It will not be able to replace the human element of manufacturing, which is a vital inter-action for certain parts of the service sector that consumers and businesses require.

Where AI and automation will take over is for those businesses who aren’t investing as they will see their market share reduce. Ultimately that will lead to job losses as sustainability for those businesses who are under investing and not innovating will become terminal and their competition will grow increased market share.

As confirmed by our speakers and guests at our recent Is Smart Manufacturing for SMEs event, technology can create jobs but they will be different jobs to what people are used to.  Low skilled work is under threat but that is where industry needs to invest in its people to upskill them to ensure these key employees learn new skills to use the implemented technology to drive continued great service and keep the competition at bay.

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University of South Wales

Dr Mike Reddy PFHEA | Senior Lecturer in Future Technology

The web site willrobotstakemyjob.com allows us to check whether our current jobs are in jeopardy, and makes some interesting predictions: waiters, watch repairers, models, and mathematicians are at high risk of automation, while work with and for people, as in medicine and firefighting, are all virtually impossible to replace, according to the web site. In fact, we just do not know what the effect of robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence will be.

The “with and for” yard stick is actually the most useful. Cash machines (ATMs) threatened thousands of bank teller jobs in the 70s. And yet, we have more bank employees now than ever. It is just that their role changed from monotonous tasks to customer service; the human touch, which anyone who has had an “unexpected item in the bagging area” will tell you is rather important. That and the jobs servicing the machines that serve us.

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Aspen Waite

Darren Talbot | Financial Accountant and Chief Financial Officer

We believe that AI will create jobs and opportunities – as the need for a more skilled workers arises, people will move from manual, laborious tasks to providing the human element – interpreting information, reasoning and advising.

The advent of new technology will always disrupt the “old ways”; but people adapt quickly to the challenge. There will of course be winners and losers, but change brings opportunities.

As a recent study revealed, Cardiff is ranked the 3rd best Cyber City training the next generation of cyber security professionals should secure the future for Welsh enterprise. With a solid commitment to innovation through grants and funding, and many thousands of quality SMEs up and down the country, we see Wales as becoming a hub for development and new technology.

As traditional industries are modernised, it will be interesting to see how Welsh companies and communities adapt to take advantage, and Aspen Waite will continue to advise our clients to achieve their ambitions.

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Inspiretec

Luke Francis | Head of Product

Automation is designed to improve efficiency and consistency of processes. The goal is never to replace a human element, it is to augment it allowing humans to move higher up the value chain. Even with AI, machines will always be focused on quantity and efficiency, humans being focused on quality and innovation.

AI or Machine Learning is often viewed as being a solution to a myriad of business problems, in reality its purpose is to improve accuracy and efficiency of solutions which should work in their own right. It is the humans responsibility to ensure the correct solution is in place, and the machines to improve that solution.

With that in mind, we believe that as more automation and AI based solutions come into play, there will be an increased need for a human involvement in improving processes, maintaining solutions and innovating them – we believe this in turn will create more, and higher value, jobs that are displaced.

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Swansea University

Matt Jones | Head of Science

Just last week I’ve been thinking about buying a robot vacuum cleaner. It a sleek, clever gadget and it is a whisper of the future that automation might bring. But, if I do I’ll deprive my children of an income stream as we currently pay them to do chores. Chatting, though, they suggested they’d up-skill and start offering to do decorating around the house, something a home robot is far from able to do (yet): so they’ll train up and charge me more per hour than they currently get! I’m an optimist; not because of the what technology might be but because of what humans are.

Unlike machines we are unique creations combining physical, visceral flesh and bone with unfathomable abilities to imagine, emote and create. The challenge is to equip next generations with opportunities and skills to shape and take advantage of the possibilities. Crucially, we need to be “people-first” rather than “technology-first” in outlook – ensuring that human values, needs, desires and abilities are used to drive innovations in products and services

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Aspen Waite Group

Ross Curry | Marketing Manager

The Alan Turing Institute has been recognised by Government as the National Institute for AI and Data Science. All UK Universities should now be part of a key stated aim that centres its mission on AI. The Alan Turing Institute, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council ( EPSRC ), Science and Technology Facilities Council ( STFC) and the Joint Information Systems Committee ( JISC ) should work together to coordinate demand for computing capacity for AI research and negotiate globally for the UK research Community, to ensure the UK and Wales in particular, are at  the forefront of this research and development for AI.