Innovation

AI could lead to 4-hour workdays and World War III, says Alibaba's Jack Ma

In a CNBC interview, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma shared his thoughts on artificial intelligence's risks and opportunities, including shorter workdays and weeks.

Artificial intelligence (AI) could lead to shorter work days and work weeks, but it could also be the cause of World War III, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma told CNBC in an interview on Wednesday.

By automating routine tasks, and taking over manual labor, AI could free some employees up to simply work less. Ma said in the interview that his grandfather worked 16 hours a day, and modern employees work eight, but we will work even fewer hours in the future.

"I think in the next 30 years, people only work four hours a day and maybe four days a week," Ma told CNC.

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However, with the benefits of AI will also come struggle. Things like data and automation will play an increasing role in the lives of all employees, and could cause some problems if the government doesn't step in, Ma said.

The first two World Wars were caused by technological revolutions, Ma said in the interview. Technologies like AI and machine learning will begin to eliminate more jobs, causing the third technology revolution, which "may cause the Third World War," Ma noted.

The education system should account for this by better preparing students for automation's effect on the workplace, Ma said. Machines should primarily be created to complement the abilities of humans, performing tasks that humans cannot do, he argued. However, if AI does go to war with humanity, Ma said that "humans will win."

The true effect AI will have on modern work has been hotly debated. Some researchers have posited that AI will destroy more jobs than it creates, while others claim that it could eventually outperform humans at every single task. Also, the fear of AI replacing humans at work is the no. 1 cause of stress in the workplace.

Other reports claim the opposite. Recent research from IDC claims that AI efficiencies could lead to 800,000 news jobs being created. Whether positive or negative, it is absolutely certain that AI will impact the future or work in one way or another.

Still, if Ma's vision of AI's future in work is to come to fruition, the technology could simply lead to a more free work environment, or one that is more efficient, at least.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba, said in a CNBC interview that AI could lead to four-day work weeks and four-hour days in the office.
  2. AI, and its impact on the job market, could also lead to World War III, Ma said, which humans would win.
  3. Conflicting research makes the potential impact of AI unclear, but it is poised to disrupt work in one major way or another, regardless.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/alphaspirit

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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