AI won’t simply replace Humans

“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before” says Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) has played a crucial role in ushering in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. According to the World Economic Forum, “it is disrupting almost every industry in every country.” 

AI is a conglomeration of concepts and technologies that mean different things to different people – self-driving cars, robots that impersonate humans, machine learning, and more – and its applications are everywhere you look even if you may not observe it. An AI is a computer system that can perform tasks that ordinarily require human intelligence. Powered by machine learning, these AI systems are critical for companies looking to extract value from data by automating and optimising processes or producing actionable insights. They enable companies to leverage their large amounts of available data to uncover insights and patterns that would be impossible for any one person to tease out, enabling them to deliver more targeted, personalised communications, predict critical care events, identify likely fraudulent transactions, and more. 

Companies that fail to adopt AI and machine learning technologies are fated to be left behind: 

  • Global spending on AI will grow 50% compounded annually and will reach US$79.2 billion by 2022. 
  • Industries like retail, marketing, healthcare, fintech, insurance, and more will all stand to benefit from AI and machine learning. 
  • Companies driven by insights from data will take US$1.2 trillion a year from non-insight driven companies by 2020. 
  • 83 per cent of early adopters are already gaining value from AI and machine learning initiatives. 


It is often said that AI will replace humans; we believe this matter is not as trivial as it seems. AI might, on the contrary, create jobs; we must ensure that humans have their say, and, far more importantly, a genuine role to play. 

A recent study by Gartner concluded that AI will create 2.3 million jobs over the next two years, with a nett increase of half a million jobs. Other studies have made similar conclusions. And contrary to what you may expect, these jobs won’t just be for computer geeks. We will see more and more AI-enhanced human roles. 

The critical reason that AI won’t simply replace humans is the well-known economic principle of comparative advantage. David Ricardo developed the classical theory of comparative advantage in 1817 to explain why countries engage in international trade even when one country’s workers are more efficient at producing every single good than workers in other countries. It isn’t the absolute cost or efficiency that determines which country supplies which goods or services. It is the relative strengths or advantages of producing each good or service within each country, and the opportunity cost of not specialising in what you are best at. The same principle applies to humans and computers. 

Live With AI’s wish to focus on AI & Work through different contributions written by researchers and academics, entrepreneurs, or whether corporate executives, is of significant importance. To overcome legitimate fears, that uncertainty over the future fuels daily, we must think about jobs and work evolution. By doing so, by understanding human strengths as well as AI weaknesses, we will allow a serene and enduring relationship with AI so that we can, personally as much as professionally, live better with AI. 

Colin Priest – DATAROBOT

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The foundation gathers thought leaders, researchers, decision-makers, from Asia and Europe, to lead working groups and research projects on the positive impacts of artificial intelligence on our society.

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