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PwC: AI will create as many jobs as it displaces in the UK

Jul 31
Tags: PwC
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PwC: AI will create as many jobs as it displaces in the...

One of the many areas of technological innovation businesses could benefit from tracking at the moment is the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and related technologies.

While there are concerns that this trend could take jobs away from humans, PwC has released research highlighting the positive impact AI could have on many sectors.

Welcome effects

New analysis by the professional services firm predicted that, over the next 20 years, AI and associated technologies could displace approximately seven million existing jobs, but create 7.2 million new roles.

While the net effect on the jobs market is expected to be broadly neutral or marginally positive, the study noted there are significant differences between sectors in terms of the anticipated consequences.

Health and social work is expected to see the biggest benefit, with employment increasing by nearly one million in total - the equivalent of more than a fifth of existing jobs in the sector.

Nearly 500,000 roles could open up in the professional, scientific and technical space, while the number of jobs in education and the information and communication sector could rise by 187,000 and 121,000 respectively.

At the other end of the scale, public administration and defence, transportation and storage, and the manufacturing industry are expected to feel the most severe ramifications in terms of job losses.

John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, pointed out that history has provided many examples - from steam engines to computers - of technological development displacing existing jobs, but also driving productivity.

"This reduces prices and increases real income and spending levels, which in turn creates demand for additional workers," he continued. "Our analysis suggests the same will be true of AI, robots and related technologies, but the distribution of jobs across sectors will shift considerably in the process."

The research also looked into potential regional trends, predicting that London will see the biggest positive impact of AI on jobs. However, it was noted that the effects are likely to be fairly consistent across the UK.

Business value

Earlier findings from US research firm Gartner highlighted how much organisations could have to gain from the AI revolution.

The study predicted that global business value derived from AI will reach $1.2 trillion (£916 billion) in 2018, an increase of 70 per cent from last year.

Taking a more long-term view, Gartner predicted that AI-based business value will escalate to nearly $4 trillion by 2022.

John-David Lovelock, research vice-president at the firm, said AI has the potential to become the most disruptive class of technologies in the next decade. Development in computational power and volume of data are expected to be two key drivers of this trend, along with advances in deep neural networks.

He added: "One of the biggest aggregate sources for AI-enhanced products and services acquired by enterprises between 2017 and 2022 will be niche solutions that address one need very well. Business executives will drive investment in these products, sourced from thousands of narrowly focused, specialist suppliers with specific AI-enhanced applications."

The report pointed out that customer experience is the primary source of derived business value in the early years of AI, followed by cost reduction.

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Image credit: iStock/Niyazz

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