Artificial intelligence will replace 2.5 billion jobs over the next decade

Posted: 28 April 2017 | By Darcie Thompson-Fields

Artificial intelligence will replace half of all jobs over the next 10 years.

This was the extraordinary forecast from one of China’s leading tech commentators and founder of venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures,  Kai-Fu Lee, who was speaking to CNBC this week.

Lee, who has investments in over 300 companies, has been described by  as something of an ‘Oracle’ when it comes to predicting the impact technology will have on humanity, accumulating more than 50 million follows on Chinese social network platforms.

Speaking to CNBC, the technologist described AI as a “singular thing” that will be “larger than all of human tech revolutions added together, including electricity, [the] industrial revolution, internet, mobile internet — because AI is pervasive.” Full video interview here.

His comments mirror those made recently at Mobile World Cogresss in Barcelona, in which Intel SVP platform engineering Amir Faintuch described AI as being as big as the invention of the wheel and discovery of fire.

Lee added: “It is the decision engine that will replace people,” Lee said, adding that AI capabilities far exceed those of humanity.

“These are things that are superhuman, and we think this will be in every industry, will probably replace 50 percent of human jobs, create a huge amount of wealth for mankind and wipe out poverty,” adding that he expected that displacement to occur in the next 10 years.

According to figures, he population of the world is around 7.2 billion, and about 70 percent of people in the world are working. This gives a figure of about 5 billion jobs in the world.

Humans not becoming extinct

However, Lee backs previous claims from leading tech firms such as Microsoft and IBM, by insisting that whilst robots and automation will have a significant impact on replacing humans, he agrees that “nothing” can replace human to human interaction.

This is something heavily debated, particularly within customer services sectors and, more crucially, medical.

Microsoft’s “distinguished scientist” and lab director Chris Bishop said during the firms annual Future Decoded even last year whilst discussing how AI is being used to spot potentially deadly tumours: “Our goal here is not to replace the radiologist or doctor. Instead we recognise that as of today and for the foreseeable future the capabilities of machines are complimentary to the capabilities of people.

“We still leave the human expert to diagnose the tumour and to plan the treatment. But where the machine and the AI are very powerful is in being very precise, very quantitative and being very fast. The process of segmenting or defining the boundary of the tumour can be speeded up from a few hours to just a few minutes. That’s important not only for treatment but also for radiation planning and reducing minimal damage to surrounding tissue.”

Lee concluded:”Touching one’s heart with your heart is something that machines, I believe, will never be good at,” he said, explaining that service jobs should be considered “first-class” employment.”

“AI is about taking data into insight and decision, so I anticipate [the] internet sector, entrepreneurial sector, to continue to grow and in many cases, displace and even wipe out traditional companies in China.”



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