30 May 2023 – According to various reports, Artificial Intelligence will replace tens, if not hundreds, of millions of jobs in the next 10 to 15 years. So is this something small businesses should embrace or be worried about?
It is difficult nowadays to look at any news without reading about artificial intelligence (AI) and how it will take all our jobs. One could be forgiven for thinking that the robots from science fiction are coming.
Investment bank Goldman Sachs has recently predicted that AI will replace 300 million full-time roles. Far more than previous estimates.
And big businesses such as IBM have already stopped hiring people for jobs AI can do. According to the company’s CEO, 30% of its workforce is likely to be replaced by artificial intelligence within the next five years.
In the UK, BT has announced its intention to cut 55,000 jobs by 2030, with a fifth of these roles being replaced by AI and other technologies. So is it time for small UK businesses to follow suit and embrace artificial intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence Is Already Used In Many Areas
Artificial intelligence can be a great tool to speed up simple tasks and automate processes. Processing and analysing data is also an area where AI is already used.
However, in most, if not all cases, AI is used together with human support, where the main responsibility still lies with humans rather than AI. Customer service chatbots are one example.
Anyone who has used the chat function on a website has most likely talked to a chatbot. And while it can help with simple requests, for more complex issues, a human staff member is necessary.
Otherwise, the customer will be left feeling angry and unhappy, which will be bad for business.
Manufacturing is another area where AI is already used to automate tasks. Assembly-line work is probably the most obvious use for artificial intelligence in factories. But even here, humans are still necessary.
The machines need to be maintained, and if an issue ocurrs, human engineers are required to resolve the problem to keep the assembly line going.
Even in health care, AI has found its uses. Monitoring patients, interpreting x-rays and medical diagnostics are all areas where artificial intelligence has successfully been deployed.
However, we are still far away from robots performing complex operations. Such tasks that need hand-eye coordination are still beyond AI’s capabilities.
But that does not mean that small businesses can ignore AI. Because AI tools can help make many jobs quicker and easier. This frees up time for business owners as well as staff to focus on activities that add value.
Accounting, business management and marketing are areas where many companies already use AI. And as this technology progresses, no doubt more useful tools will emerge that will make the life of small businesses easier.
So it pays for business owners to keep themselves informed of any advances in AI and consider how these could help their small company to thrive.
But AI won’t replace swaths of roles in the next few months. The transition is likely to be gradual and slow. While some jobs might disappear completely, most will change so that they work with AI.
It is also highly likely that new jobs will be created as a result of AI being used more in different industries.
80% Of People Unconcerned About AI
Despite recent reports that artificial intelligence is predicted to replace millions of jobs in the next two decades, most people seem unconcerned, according to a new survey by ID Crypt Global.
The survey asked 1,196 UK workers and 80% said they were not concerned about their job being replaced by AI. Even more, 94% said they don’t take any steps to prepare for their work being taken over by artificial intelligence.
Almost half of the respondents (47%) believe that AI will have a harmful effect on our society. On the other hand, 36% said it will be beneficial and 17% were unsure what impact AI will have.
More than half (52%) have also said that it is their employer and the government’s shared responsibility to retrain them for jobs that won’t be affected by AI. Only 14% said it is on themselves to gain the skills needed to move to an AI-safe role.
This attitude seems far apart from what businesses think. According to research by Tech.co, 47% of business leaders would consider using AI rather than hiring people.
But whether workers believe they will be replaced by AI or not, it seems inevitable that almost all jobs will involve working with it sooner or later.
So small businesses would do well to give AI a chance and start looking at how it can help to grow their business and save money. By future-proofing their business now, they can ensure they grow and thrive rather than being left behind.