Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are already impacting the workforce: AI will eliminate 1.8 million jobs by 2020, but will also create an additional 2.3 million positions, according to Gartner. While AI is expected to primarily replace low-level, routine work, by 2022, one in five workers engaged in non-routine tasks will rely on AI to get work done, Gartner predicts.
We surveyed the TechRepublic CIO Jury on their organization's plans for AI replacing human workers. When asked, "Do you believe AI will replace jobs at your organization this year?" nine tech leaders said no, while three said yes.
"AI and automation will absolutely replace jobs at our organization this year," said Josh Garrett, co-founder and president of software company MOBI. "While AI is replacing current jobs, that doesn't mean we are reducing our current workforce. We've been fortunate to have a highly-skilled and adaptable workforce that has allowed these new jobs to be filled internally by candidates with extensive company and industry knowledge. This has allowed us to implement AI solutions in ways we haven't imagined in the past."
SEE: IT leader's guide to the future of artificial intelligence (Tech Pro Research)
MOBI is using AI to facilitate customer service and transactional support, including chatbots, process automation, and data prediction, Garrett said. Employees were initially hesitant about the ramifications of AI initiatives, but now are able to focus on more rewarding value-add work, he added.
"Being a public accounting firm, we expect to see significant reductions in staffing on the audit side," said Robert Culpon, CIO of Anderson ZurMuehlen Technology Services. "Our projection is that AI will replace most low level auditor jobs in the next five years."
Some are optimistic about the potential for working with AI. "I think in architecture and design it will augment jobs over the coming decade or two, not replace them," said Simon Johns, IT director at Sheppard Robson Architects LLP.
KIMS Hospitals Group in India has seen growth in the adoption of AI for improving the patient experience, said group CIO Inder Davalur. "The next step I seek from this is machine learning that can engage the patient directly and bypass the necessity to have as many patient care personnel on the floors," Davalur said. "My intent is to allocate human resources where the human touch is still needed."
SEE: IT jobs 2018: Hiring priorities, growth areas, and strategies to fill open roles (Tech Pro Research)
However, the majority of tech leaders said they do not expect AI to directly impact their workforce composition this year.
"AI will not replace jobs this year," said Cory Wilburn, CIO of the Texas General Land Office. "Our organization is examining the use of AI to augment our workers by analyzing data and helping our staff focus their work on the things that are most important to the organization."
Dan Gallivan, director of information technology at Payette, said he doesn't believe AI will replace positions within the firm due to the nature of its creative design work. "But I do see us using AI in some areas such as conference room's and support areas," Gallivan said. "Imagine walking into a conference room saying 'Hey Alexa, start my meeting' and automatically joining the correct dial-in number and starting the presentation, or [an AI assistant saying] 'Excuse me, based on current traffic you should leave for your next meeting in 15 minutes'... those could be game changers for the modern workplace."
Michael Spears, CIO and chief data officer of the National Council on Compensation Insurance, also said he does not see AI replacing any jobs in 2018, but "in the years ahead, it will ultimately be relied upon by many workers engaged in non-routine tasks," he said.
This month's CIO Jury included:
- David Wilson, director of IT services, VectorCSP
- Shane Milam, executive director of technology infrastructure services, Mercer University
- Simon Johns, IT director, Sheppard Robson Architects LLP
- N'Gai Oliveras Arroyo, IT director, Office of the Comptroller of Puerto Rico
- Inder Davalur, group CIO, KIMS Hospitals Private Limited
- Cory Wilburn, CIO, Texas General Land Office
- Dan Gallivan, director of information technology, Payette
- Josh Garrett, co-founder and president, MOBI
- Michael Spears, CIO and chief data officer, National Council on Compensation Insurance
- Mike S. Ferris, global IT director of infrastructure, Lincoln Electric
- Michael Hayes, head of marketing operations, Empire Maids NYC
- Robert Culpon, CIO, Anderson ZurMuehlen Technology Services
Want to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury and have your say on the top issues for IT decision makers? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director, or equivalent at a large or small company, working in the private sector or in government, and you want to join TechRepublic's CIO Jury pool, click the Contact link below or email alison dot rayome at cbsinteractive dot com, and send your name, title, company, location, and email address.
- Special report: How to implement AI and machine learning (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- No, AI won't eat your job, say tech chiefs, and here's why (ZDNet)
- Cheat sheet: How to become a data scientist (TechRepublic)
- Five tech jobs that AI and automation will make radically more efficient (ZDNet)
- Demand for AI talent exploding: Here are the 10 most in-demand jobs (TechRepublic)
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.