Science, Technology, and Social Media

Artificial Intelligence Is Not The Future Of Work; It’s Already Here

  • Survey shows one-third of U.S. workers already exposed to AI on the job

Business pundits trumpet AI as the future for U.S. employment, but a large-scale survey of U.S. workers indicates that more than 32% are already exposed to some form of AI in their jobs. An additional 6% of workers will begin using AI tools for the first time in 2019.

Optimized Workforce – a crowd-sourced think tank that studies the intersection of technology and employment – surveyed more than 10,000 U.S. workers to understand the time they spend on specific tasks, the technologies they work with, and the technologies they will deploy next year to help with those tasks. The survey sampled workers from 19 of the 20 Census Bureau NAICS codes and all of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ top-level occupational codes.

The findings, released in a report available on the think tank’s Web site, titled “AI Opportunity Report 2018: Which Industries Are Investing in AI? Which Ones Should Be?” reveal that AI-enabled document classification and document creation technologies lead all AI penetration and will continue to see strong investment in 2019. However, the level of investment in other AI technologies varies widely by industry. The construction industry is the most aggressive investor in AI and will continue to be next year, but some industries – like health care – are not investing enough, based on the task-by-task efficiencies AI can provide.

Although the low-hanging fruit for AI vendors involves easing the burden of administrative tasks, survey results imply that AI tools with more strategic applications – like scenario planning – will gain steam in 2019.

The estimated dollar value of efficiencies AI could provide the U.S. economy in 2018 approaches $900 billion (the equivalent of 15% of total U.S. payroll), but AI technology vendors will see only a fraction of that, in part due to challenges proving the ROI the technologies provide.

Another key report finding: The aforementioned 15% productivity gains will not trigger a corollary 15% reduction in employment. More than 13% of workers surveyed said they spend so much time on tasks that could be made more efficient with AI that they are missing key business goals and deliverables.

“AI is not the future of work, it’s the present,” says Craig Desens, an Optimized Workforce adviser. “Before we conducted this large-scale survey of U.S. workers, we were predicting AI adoption through macroeconomic indicators. Now we have a more detailed view of the current state.”

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Duncan Idaho

Duncan is a science and technology reporter for CDN and serves as the lead geek correspondent. Follow him if you like rockets, mobile tech, video games or ... just about anything nerdy.

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