One third of graduate level jobs could be replaced by technology, with accountants, court clerks and “desk officers at fiscal authorities” among the roles most likely to be affected, according to a legal-focused report by the International Bar Association in July 2017. The report goes on to say that governments are going to have to introduce human job quotas as robots and AI software increasingly replace human labor.
The shift towards AI employment has already begun. Recently, legal firm Baker & Hostetler employed an AI attorney and the Dubai government piloted a robot police force. There’s also been a swathe of chatbots designed to perform customer service tasks, answer queries and help facilitate transactions.
Similar experiments are happening in the creative industries as well. For example, advertising agency McCann Japan employed an AI creative director, which created a reasonably convincing TV commercial.
While robot and AI employees are significantly cheaper, costing between $5 and $8 an hour, the report notes that they also don’t go on strike or require pay for sick days, maternity leave and vacations.
The study considers the legal implications of these technological advances and warns that the current frameworks for employment regulation will soon become outdated.
However, while the technology will undoubtedly change the current state of employment, some argue that it will create as many new jobs as it will replace existing ones. In fact, in many cases, the AI robots promise to free up existing employees to focus on the more interesting, skilled and demanding tasks.
For example, IBM Watson has created an AI device for hospital patients that can perform simple tasks like turning off the lights, adjusting the air conditioning and answering questions about lunch. This allows the nurses more time to focus on patients in most need of their attention.
Despite the moral ramifications of AI employment, this new robotic workforce seems likely to become more intelligent and ubiquitous in the years to come. It will be up to the collective power of government legislators, business owners and AI developers alike to ensure people harness the power of machine learning rather than fall victim to it.