The American workforce, AI and chatbots in focus
In a dynamic world, US leadership in AI is paramount. Balancing this with the needs of the workforce and creating the right opportunities should be a collective responsibility.
The president took aim at balancing the economy by driving the current agenda that will improve job security for the American people. This coincided with geostrategic aims at a time where national security has a closer link to technological innovation than ever before. This is somewhat of a complex task since rebalancing a workforce to keep up with innovation is something every administration needs to do around the world, on an ongoing basis. The process is dynamic simply because innovation is continuous and will never stop.
Right now, as The US, Israel, UK and some countries with whom we have shared values, face record employment levels and thriving economies, the macro view is in fact one of concern over talent shortages. One view is that anyone who rebalances their career and align it with technological changes, has a bright future. There are other views too, which I will discuss below.
Fears about AI disruption:
Notwithstanding this bright future where people can easily transition towards new careers, there are thousands of call center workers, customer service agents, TECH support specialists, taxi and truck drivers who fear their jobs will be lost when AI comes to full swing. It is truly understandable – but what about the opportunities? There are genuine opportunities to change the world: changing career is just one of them. It just happens, by co-incidence that most of our countries which I mentioned before, also have incredible support systems to facilitate career changes. Will we be able to balance the need for job security, versus the opportunities to change and evolve in a way that results in a win-win outcome? That should be our focus.
Will an AI related tax solve concerns?
Bill Gates proposed an AI related tax, which I am not sure will represent an optimal solution. Indeed this is something that will be heavily debated at the AI summit in San Francisco this year. There has to be caution about the idea of raising a concern in order to raise a tax. We have seen this too many times around the world, where for example, carbon tax and other environmental taxes were raised but did not really solve anything. This explains the view of the president when he pulled out of the Paris climate accord – albeit that this is a topic of a more complex nature.
Another view on the tax issue can also be taken into consideration. Some analysts feel that in any balanced economy, it is reasonable to expect that tax losses resulting from lesser employee tax will be offset against higher corporate profits and more savings passed onto the end user. The challenge comes in cases where economies are not balanced, relying too heavily on outsourcing as an income. But it raises the question: Should we forfeit the incredible benefits of technology simply to protect those who did not evolve? In the US, there is the perception that this will not happen and that innovation at the right pace is always a priority. My own analysis after being involved with France, Belgium, the UK and Israel – is that most business leaders support this status quo.
Turning to the opportunities:
We have seen examples of how every possible industry benefits from AI. I am yet to encounter one sector where we could not see an improvement. Here you can see just how many industries are participating already – and how many new job opportunities there was for new bot developers. Included in our list of success stories are also governments and militaries who adopted AI to serve the public better and provide better defence capabilities. At a citizen level, we are proud to say that AI can certainly be good for the environment, reduce our carbon footprint – and hugely improve the issues we face with cybersecurity, cyberextortion and fraud. We’re also seeing in the US, how hotels are fighting back against the gig economy, by using chatbots and AI to streamline their booking procedures and reduce cost in order to become competitive again. Then, there are also numerous ways in which the healthcare sector is improved and I would argue that by virtue of both military and healthcare improvements, we are managing to steer this boat in a direction that can benefit humanity far more than the downsides associated with fears people may have.
Change is inevitable and it is better to change as a matter of timely evolution, as opposed to waiting for everyone else to change and be the last country on board. The leadership that the US and Israel demonstrated in the field of technology is also key to their leadership in the world. It is therefore one of the most important cross-party and multi-national efforts of our time. The end result has to be artificial intelligence that is deployed for the better of humanity, where conflicts of interest are resolved early on for our common good.