I frequently hear questions about AI replacing human jobs. However, these questions are as vague as asking if you can get to San Francisco in 30 minutes; it depends on hundreds if not thousands of variables like your location, vehicle, time of the day, and others.
I hope this short article will shed light on these questions from a strategy perspective.
The main reason for the displacement of any job and furthermore disruption of existing offerings in a given market is a breakthrough solution to an existing industry problem. CDs, for instance, disrupted the cassette tape industry by providing exceptional value to the music lovers. The know-how for producing cassette tape suddenly became obsolete, and everybody who was working in the cassette tape industry including raw material to recording devices and even cassette racks lost or transitioned their jobs over time.
However, it didn’t take long for another disruption in the music industry. Apple iPod and similar MP3 players created another breakthrough which eventually caused displacement in CD related jobs. The impact of the digital music player on the human workforce, which was specialized in CD production and accessories is beyond our comprehension. Manufacturing, packaging, recorders, players, laser devices, cases, cover prints, cover graphic designs, CD shelves, racks, carrying cases, CD label printers, label pens to name but a few.
In contrary to breakthroughs like what happened in the music industry, if a company solves a brand new problem or seizes a unique opportunity, unlocking a new market beyond existing industry boundaries, then new job opportunities open without displacing any current jobs in the industry. There are at least a hundred examples you have experienced in your lifetime. Social media, for instance, created jobs like social media marketing manager or social media strategist which have never existed before. Youtube, is another one, from special recording microphones to camera gear for vloggers it created a massive industry around solving a need which had not previously been addressed before.
Artificial intelligence is just another technology tool which is impacting human jobs depending on how it is being utilized in a specific industry for a particular purpose. Therefore, it is easy to imagine AI solutions which simultaneously displace some jobs, replace some tasks, and open up new job opportunities in the same industry and even in the same company or department.
I think there are more severe threads ranging from safety to black-box issues we need to be concerned about because the more mainstream AI technologies get the more intended and unintended outcomes we will encounter which may do not respect regulations, environment, and even life in large.
In any case, if you are willing to study at least fundamental AI business concepts, you don't need to worry about the impact to your job because you will be less susceptible to the effect of disruptive AI solutions and will be prepared for opportunities rising from new-market creating AI innovations. I'm covering these aspects and many business-related AI topics in my "Product Management in the Artificial Intelligence Era" course at Stanford Continuing Studies. If you are interested please feel free to sign up at https://continuingstudies.stanford.edu/courses/professional-and-personal-development/product-management-in-the-artificial-intelligence-era/20191_WSP-359.
Also, if you are interested in learning about different corporate strategies and their impact on the market, I highly recommend reading W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne's book, Blue Ocean Shift.
Thank you for reading!