The AI Industry
Artificial Intelligence is not an industry, nor will it ever be.
Electricity isn’t an industry. Energy is, but electricity, in itself, is not. Software is an industry, just ask Facebook, Google and Amazon, but AI will not become a spin-off industry.
AI will be part of every industry. AI will kill some industries and create new ones, but more importantly, it’ll permeate every job function currently in the global economy to some degree.
Let me say up front that I am confident AI will take lots of jobs. This reality brings me great stress. I think it will take more jobs than it creates, and I don’t think that many of our workers are ready for this change.
Anything that’s repeatable or largely data-driven is under threat. Accounting, bookkeeping, any type of transportation driver/pilot/conductor/sea navigator, law, data entry, journalistic reporting (different from being a columnist), doctors, surgeons, entry-level HR, paralegals and legal assistants, just to name a few.
This isn’t to say there will be no paralegals or no doctors, but there won’t be nearly as many.
A reduction of 20% is a massive shift in our society. What about a reduction of 80%?
These jobs, no matter the prestige, are largely data-driven. Since an AI is data-driven, the primary job functions will be automated. Why pay a team of 20 paralegals when you can have one algorithm work across 10 different computers for 24 hours per day at 100x the cost? Why trust just the doctor in front of you when you can have the sum total of all the knowledge of all the doctors ever at your fingertips?
Artificial intelligence is industry-agnostic, which is why we can cover healthcare, law, business, journalism, and transportation- just to name a few. It is like electricity. The world is better because of it, and it changed every industry for the better, but the market for coal shovelers and chimney sweeps is pretty small now.
If you had said 100 years ago that there would be a massive shift in the job market and people would be database analysts or digital animators, and that we would have more jobs than ever before, it wouldn’t be comprehendible. The jobs simply didn’t exist in 1919.
There will be situations like this in the next 100 years, but I don’t think they’ll be to the same degree as what was.
There is good news. There are 4 million people looking for work in the US and over 7 million available jobs. This is encouraging, because there are places for people to go with the right training, but this is a temporary fix. Will the workers who are displaced join newly-created industries? Will they lose a sense of purpose?
I’ve heard Tony Robbins, Peter Diamandis, Ray Kurzweil, and many others, all ask this question. Nobody seems confident of what is to come.
However, what we do know is this: the industry that took their job doesn’t exist anymore.