Updated: Jul 13
I recommend that leaders apply a framework to assess their workforce's vulnerability to disruption from artificial intelligence. And as individuals, we all need to be preparing for the quickly arriving next phase of our careers. AI will significantly impact jobs over the next decade, but some roles will be more affected than others. It's important to understand that role disruption doesn't necessarily mean that the role will disappear, but change is inevitable.
The framework that I propose simplifies concepts offered by scholars and practitioners and focuses on evaluating jobs based on three factors:
Routine vs. Non-Routine Tasks: AI excels at routine, repetitive tasks that follow set rules and require little creativity. Jobs involving routine tasks like data entry, bookkeeping, and assembly line work are at high risk of automation. Non-routine jobs requiring problem-solving, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence are safer.
Mental vs. Manual Labor: AI is suited for cognitive labor like analyzing data, recognizing patterns, and making predictions. Jobs involving cognitive labor, such as financial analysis, medical diagnosis, and legal research, are at risk of automation. Manual labor jobs like construction, farming, and cleaning are less vulnerable.
Degree of Human Interaction: AI currently struggles with tasks requiring a high degree of human interaction, such as providing emotional support, negotiating, and resolving conflicts. Jobs with extensive human interaction like teaching, counseling, and social work are less likely to be automated.
Below is a matrix that I crafted that includes examples of jobs heavily impacted by AI based on this framework. I offer a more complete listing broken down by industry located here. It lists roles on a scale of 1-5, demonstrating each role's disruption likelihood. It includes:
Media & Entertainment
Defense & Cybersecurity
Finance & Insurance
Transportation & Warehousing
Healthcare & Social Services
AI Impacted Roles
Based on these 3 factors, leaders (and individuals) can assess the risk of AI disruption for different roles. Jobs involving routine cognitive work and little human interaction, e.g., administrative assistants and data entry clerks, face the highest threat of automation. Non-routine jobs requiring manual labor and high human interaction, e.g., chefs and social workers, are the least at risk.
The ratings in this matrix provide a general sense of AI's impact on each job (the Legal industry example is below inset). Scores of 1 demonstrate a low likelihood for disruption up to scores of 5, where heavy disruption is probable. As technology progresses, these ratings will change. Using this framework empowers business leaders, and individuals, to determine which roles in their company are most at risk of disruption as the environment evolves, so they can take action to upskill employees and plan for future transitions.
AI is also bringing new and expanded roles as it transforms industries and the workforce. While it is challenging to predict the exact nature and number of these new roles, several areas are likely to experience growth and demand for specialized skills. Here are some potential job opportunities created by the evolution of AI:
AI Specialists and Engineers: As AI technology advances, there will be an increased need for professionals specializing in AI development, machine learning, and data science. These experts will design, develop, and implement AI systems, ensuring their effectiveness, reliability, and ethical use.
AI Trainers and Explainers: AI systems require training and ongoing monitoring to ensure optimal performance. AI trainers will work on creating and curating high-quality datasets and fine-tuning AI models. AI explainers will help interpret and communicate the decision-making processes of AI systems to users and stakeholders.
Data Scientists and Analysts: With the increasing volume of data generated by AI systems and their integration into business operations, there will be a growing demand for professionals skilled in data analysis, interpretation, and deriving actionable insights. Data scientists and analysts will play a crucial role in leveraging AI-generated data to drive business strategies and decision-making.
AI Ethicists and Policy Experts: As AI technology becomes more prevalent, the ethical considerations surrounding its use become increasingly important. AI ethicists will address questions of fairness, accountability, and transparency in AI systems. Policy experts will contribute to the development of regulations and guidelines governing AI technology to ensure its responsible and beneficial implementation.
Human-AI Interaction Specialists: As AI systems become more integrated into our daily lives, there will be a need for specialists who can design intuitive and user-friendly interfaces for human-AI interaction. These professionals will focus on improving the usability, adaptability, and trustworthiness of AI systems, making them more accessible and effective for end-users.
AI-Related Support Roles: The increasing adoption of AI technology will require a support ecosystem to ensure its smooth functioning. This can include roles such as AI system trainers, AI system maintainers, data annotators, and AI project managers, who will provide ongoing support, maintenance, and coordination of AI initiatives within organizations.
Creative Professionals: While AI can assist in creative tasks, human creativity remains highly valued. Jobs in creative industries, such as artists, writers, designers, and filmmakers, will continue to thrive as AI tools and technologies augment and enhance their work, providing new possibilities and tools for expression.
AI is significantly transforming the workforce and with proactive management, leaders can harness its power to augment human labor, rather than replace it, and usher in the next workforce evolution. This three-part framework offers a practical starting point for businesses looking to determine AI's impact on their operations and to ensure a smooth AI-enabled automation transition. For individuals, understanding that your role will evolve, is essential to ensuring your future career success.