IT World Canada is pleased to once again partner with the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) to host the Third National Business Technology Management (BTM) Student Competition. Teams are composed of the top 3rd and 4th-year BTM students from participating schools.

The blog topic this year is “There’s a lot of hype around the impact that artificial intelligence (AI) will have on Canada’s workforce. Some studies suggest it will wipe out thousands of jobs. Others suggest it will kindle innovation and generate more jobs than it eliminates. Develop a blog that takes a point of view on this subject.” 

 

Artificial Intelligence and its impact on the Canadian workforce

 

There has been a gigantic growth in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the last couple of years. Automation has already begun to shape the current world and employment has been the factor that has been impacted. Before we go in-depth about the impact of AI, we must first address what it is and how far it has come.

Artificial Intelligence is the theory and development of computer systems that are able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. This includes intelligence such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between various languages. AI has impacted the world in various ways. Currently, automotive companies such as Tesla has taken advantage of AI and has invented self-driving cars. AI has also been leveraged in companies such as Alibaba where the organization uses the technology to manage its inventory systems. Other industries that have been impacted by AI include the following:

  • Manufacturing
  • Health care and Life Science
  • Public Sector
  • Retail

 

We have also seen the growth of AI in the gaming industry as AlphaGo was able to beat most of all the greatest players (except one) in the game of Go. What we must understand from the examples above is that this type of AI is called narrow AI. Narrow AI is AI that is focused on one narrow task. Once we place this AI into a multi-dimensional environment, it will not be able to perform the tasks as effectively as it would when doing one type of task (Trask, 2018). The growth of AI partnered with machine learning is how human intelligence can be achieved. According to a study completed by PwC in 2017, global GDP will be 14% higher by 2030 as a result of AI adoption, contributing an additional $15.7 trillion to the global economy (Judah, 2017). UBS estimates that the AI industry will have a revenue of $12.5 billion which is essentially doubled from the $5 billion revenue back in 2015 (UBS, 2016).

 

The advancements in technology has enabled Artificial Intelligence to flourish and prosper. This leads to the question of whether we should be worried as a collective on the potential future impacts of Artificial Intelligence in the workforce. In my opinion, most of the speculative opinions currently on Artificial Intelligence and its impact is seen at a bigger picture. I believe to address this issue, we must see the impacts as smaller fragments rather than addressing it as a whole. The current argument behind Artificial Intelligence is what can human beings do once their job and or profession has been replaced by Artificial Intelligence. According to a study that has been completed by UBS, jobs that are routinized will have the biggest impact from AI. These positions approximately represent 5% of all the jobs in every industry. UBS expects 50-75 million jobs globally to be affected due to the growth of AI and its impact in the workforce. The figure below shows the total global employment by industry (UBS).

 

The timeline of AI being able to achieve and perform everything that a human being is able to do is quite far away. In order to address the issues of employment, we must first create an environment where employees will be able to co-exist with the technology that will be created. The timeline that we have is very short, but I believe it is enough for corporate giants around the world to rethink its strategy. The correct combination of strategy and execution will allow organizations to simultaneously implement AI and be able to provide work that human beings must perform. Organizational leaders such as Elon Musk have a pessimistic view about AI and the impact that it will have on humanity, but on other hand, leaders such as Bill Gates is extremely optimistic when it comes to AI. I believe that both theories and the potential impacts should be considered as organizations begin to strategize for the upcoming events. If corporate giants were to maximize efficiency while maintaining their current expenditures and not forcing employees to leave to salvage the additional costs; the growth of AI will be able to positively impact the organizations and enable human endeavors to prosper. According to Gigabit, the workforce in the future will be able to leverage the functionality of AI as it will be able to provide various functionalities to the current tasks being completed (Future, 2018). The progression towards AI will not be a simple task but I believe that with the correct regulations and approach to improving AI will create new industries and jobs which in turn will allow corporations and the workforce to flourish and achieve an immense phenomenon in various ways.

Author: Daniel Kim, University of Calgary

 

References

Trask, & Trask. (2018, June 04). General vs Narrow AI – Hacker Noon. Retrieved from https://hackernoon.com/general-vs-narrow-ai-3d0d02ef3e28

The global impact of AI across industries. (2018, August 24). Retrieved from https://news.microsoft.com/transform/the-global-impact-of-ai-across-industries/

AI’s coming of age. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ubs.com/microsites/artificial-intelligence/en/ai-coming-age.html

Fast Future. (2018, June 09). The evolution of AI: Seven stages leading to a smarter world. Retrieved from https://www.gigabitmagazine.com/ai/evolution-ai-seven-stages-leading-smarter-world

Statistics Canada. (2017, June 14). Insights on Canadian Society The impact of aging on labour

market participation rates. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-006-x/2017001/article/14826-eng.htm

 

Thompson, B. (2018, March 27). The Arrival of Artificial Intelligence. Retrieved from

https://stratechery.com/2017/the-arrival-of-artificial-intelligence/

YANG, A. (2019). WAR ON NORMAL PEOPLE. Place of publication not identified:

HACHETTE Books.

 

 

Artificial Intelligence and its impact on society

What is artificial intelligence? The founder of the term “AI”, John McCarthy, noted that the definition of AI is constantly changing.  This happens once a task formerly thought to characterize artificial intelligence becomes routine — such as chess or checkers, or any computer abilities — then it is no longer associated to artificial intelligence. If John is right, this is probably why you get a different answer every time you ask someone about AI.

Some say AI will cross the line when it reaches human like intelligence, when self-awareness, problem solving, and human cognition are present. Currently, these algorithms are in the development stage, and massive amounts of investments are poured into projects that can generate commercial applications. In our capitalistic society, competition drives innovation, and the market rewards those who can make things more efficient. Efficiency drives profit and it wants to get stuff done using the most cost-effective way possible. Even if it means reducing human capital. This is what needs to be addressed. I believe the main concern of the masses lie in the preconceived notion that people will be rendered of value and jobs soon.

Now to the two big words that are always brought up when someone mentions AI: machine learning and automation. Machine learning is defined as giving a set of data, allowing the machine to apply statistical techniques designed by humans and is given a goal, which it uses these aforementioned techniques to achieve a goal. When that goal is to reach a point where a machine can automate out truck drivers, cashiers, administrative assistants, and even well-paid white-collar jobs in insurance and finance, in the years to come; this becomes very concerning.

Looking at the labour participation rate will give a better perspective of economic health than GDP. The graph from StatsCanada shows the downward trend of the participation rates, down to 65.7% in 2016, with each percentage equating to hundreds of thousands of people dropping out. This downward trend may be driven by factors such as an aging population, education-related factors and family-related factors, but the trend does not take account of automation and the lowered demand of labour.

 

History has shown us again and again that corporations are interested in wealth generation, and people are treated as a means to obtain that goal. “The Industrial Revolution benefited humanity in the long run, but in the short run there was tremendous suffering, interspersed with wars that were far more destructive thanks to technology.” Amendments and labour laws were established to protect the interests of the people.  With the rise of AI and automation displacing jobs, we need to ensure the upcoming government and policymakers have their agenda aligned with the interests of all Canadians.

Author: Johnny Zhong, University of Calgary

References

Trask, & Trask. (2018, June 04). General vs Narrow AI – Hacker Noon. Retrieved from https://hackernoon.com/general-vs-narrow-ai-3d0d02ef3e28

The global impact of AI across industries. (2018, August 24). Retrieved from https://news.microsoft.com/transform/the-global-impact-of-ai-across-industries/

AI’s coming of age. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ubs.com/microsites/artificial-intelligence/en/ai-coming-age.html

Fast Future. (2018, June 09). The evolution of AI: Seven stages leading to a smarter world. Retrieved from https://www.gigabitmagazine.com/ai/evolution-ai-seven-stages-leading-smarter-world

Statistics Canada. (2017, June 14). Insights on Canadian Society The impact of aging on labour

market participation rates. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-006-x/2017001/article/14826-eng.htm

 

Thompson, B. (2018, March 27). The Arrival of Artificial Intelligence. Retrieved from

https://stratechery.com/2017/the-arrival-of-artificial-intelligence/

YANG, A. (2019). WAR ON NORMAL PEOPLE. Place of publication not identified:

HACHETTE Books.

 

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