AI is expected to replace low-level, routine work, but it will also play a role in higher-level jobs in the future. By 2022, one in five workers engaged in primarily nonroutine tasks will rely on AI to get work done, according to a new Gartner report.

Applying AI to less-routine work with varied tasks will benefit workers in those jobs, according to Gartner. Instead of replacing these professionals, AI will assist them, as the combination of human and machine will perform more effectively than either working alone.

“Using AI to auto-generate a weekly status report or pick the top five emails in your inbox doesn’t have the same wow factor as, say, curing a disease would, which is why these near-term, practical uses go unnoticed,” Craig Roth, research vice president at Gartner, said in a press release. “Companies are just beginning to seize the opportunity to improve nonroutine work through AI by applying it to general-purpose tools. Once knowledge workers incorporate AI into their work processes as a virtual secretary or intern, robo-employees will become a competitive necessity.”

AI is poised to create 2.3 million jobs by 2020, while eliminating only 1.8 million jobs, according to Gartner. TechRepublic’s Jason Hiner previously reported on these numbers, first announced at the Gartner Symposium in October.

SEE: IT leader’s guide to the future of artificial intelligence (Tech Pro Research)

The number of jobs impacted by AI will vary by industry, according to Gartner. By the end of 2019, manufacturing will see the most jobs fall to AI, while demand for human workers will continue in areas such as healthcare, education, and the public sector.

In 2020, AI will begin creating jobs, and will reach 2 million net-new jobs by 2025, Gartner predicts. The technology will enhance productivity in many positions, eliminating millions of middle- and low-level jobs, but creating millions more new positions. These new jobs will span highly-skilled management positions, as well as entry-level and low-skill positions, Gartner noted.

“Many significant innovations in the past have been associated with a transition period of temporary job loss, followed by recovery, then business transformation and AI will likely follow this route,” Svetlana Sicular, research vice president at Gartner, said in the release. “Unfortunately, most calamitous warnings of job losses confuse AI with automation — that overshadows the greatest AI benefit — AI augmentation — a combination of human and artificial intelligence, where both complement each other.”

Tech leaders must keep both the potential job losses and job gains in mind when investing in AI, as well as how the technology will change worker collaboration and decision making.

“Now is the time to really impact your long-term AI direction,” Sicular said in the release. “For the greatest value, focus on augmenting people with AI. Enrich people’s jobs, reimagine old tasks and create new industries. Transform your culture to make it rapidly adaptable to AI-related opportunities or threats.”

SEE: How to implement AI and machine learning (free PDF) (ZDNet/TechRepublic special report)

Economic changes

These technologies are also expected to add to the global economy: AI augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion in business value in 2021, and will recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity, according to Gartner.

Manufacturing in particular will receive a “massive share” of AI’s business value opportunity, the report noted. Automation will lead to cost savings and increased revenue by optimizing supply chains and go-to-market activities.

Other industries, such as outsourcing, will need to fundamentally change their business models, as AI reduces costs and improves productivity.

“AI can take on repetitive and mundane tasks, freeing up humans for other activities, but the symbiosis of humans with AI will be more nuanced and will require reinvestment and reinvention instead of simply automating existing practices,” Mike Rollings, research vice president at Gartner, said in the release. “Rather than have a machine replicating the steps that a human performs to reach a particular judgment, the entire decision process can be refactored to use the relative strengths and weaknesses of both machine and human to maximize value generation and redistribute decision making to increase agility.”

Want to use this data in your next business presentation? Feel free to copy and paste these top takeaways into your next slideshow.

  • AI will create 2.3 million jobs by 2020, and eliminate 1.8 million jobs. -Gartner, 2017
  • By 2022, one in five workers engaged in primarily nonroutine tasks will rely on AI to get work done. -Gartner, 2017
  • AI augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion in business value in 2021. -Gartner, 2017