If doomsayers are to be believed, artificial intelligence will wipe out vast swathes of the global workforce within the next couple of decades.
The McKinsey Global Institute forecast that up to a third of US and German workers, and nearly half of those in Japan, may be displaced by rapid automation by 2030.
PwC, the professional services firm, reckons that machines could supplant 30% of British jobs in the same period. Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, is so worried about usurping that he is calling for a ‘robot tax’.
If this should panic future business leaders, they appear to have their poker face on. CEMS, a global alliance of business schools, surveyed 761 management master’s graduates from 49 countries on what skills they felt will be most important as intelligent algorithms invade the workplace.
Graduates ranked uniquely human social skills, such as persuasion, emotional intelligence, and empathy as the most important for the robot revolution, suggesting they do not see job destruction as being the result of automation. The take-home for anyone working a professional job is: load up on soft skills that cannot be easily replicated by robotics.
However, most managers do need to be thoroughly clued up on how to use and interact with AI-based technologies, though they do not need to become coders themselves. “You need to understand how it works, what it can, and cannot do,” says Matthias Holweg, professor of operations management at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School.
“Many of the [AI] problems like algorithmic bias are caused by poorly designed and run applications. It is the fault of the user, not the technology.”