AI will eliminate 1 of 8 jobs in Asia by 2024

Artificial intelligence and automation will steal more jobs than it enhances, according to an MIT Technology Review report.

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The artificial intelligence (AI) revolution is poised to impact nearly every industry worldwide, with far-reaching effects in Asia, according to a recent AI report from the MIT Technology Review. AI will impact one in five jobs in Asia by 2024, the report found, eliminating one in eight, but enhancing many as well.

Across 11 Asian markets studied and 900 senior business leaders surveyed, 12% of jobs are at a high risk of being automated away in the next five years, the report found. AI's impact will be greater in Asia's wealthier economies than in poorer ones (14% vs. 10% overall): Japan is expected to see about 17% of jobs automated, while Hong Kong expects 15% and South Korea and Malaysia expect a little over 14% each. However, more jobs in these wealthier areas will benefit from and be augmented by AI than in less-developed areas (11% vs. 6% overall), the report found.

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Companies are implementing AI to improve customer satisfaction, expedite decision-making, and reduce inefficiencies, the report found. While this will lead to the loss of some roles and the restructuring of others, this is not a driving force for implementing the technology, the report found: Only one-third of respondents listed the need to reduce headcount costs as a top three driver for adopting AI.

Some 8% of all current jobs in Asia will be enhanced by AI in the next five years, the report found. The majority of business leaders surveyed (77%) said they expect total headcount to increase over the next five years, including functions where AI is already being deployed, while few (3%) predict any job elimination.

Despite these plans, the outlook is still bleak: In all but one of the 11 markets studied, AI will eliminate more jobs than it enhances, the report found.

"Our research shows that many industries across the region will see rapid automation and the loss of jobs," Claire Beatty, editor of the report, said in a press release. "In developed economies we're likely to see re-skilling and redeployment. In developing markets, much more systematic planning and preparation is needed."

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The speed at which AI is developing and being adopted in businesses has left little time to consider the impact on culture, organizational structure, or workforce retraining, the report noted. Business leaders and policymakers must begin to consider how to continuously reskill their workforces, and as technology continues to evolve, and create new career pathways for those displaced by AI over time, the report said.

For more, check out How China tried and failed to win the AI race: The inside story on TechRepublic.

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