Jobs are becoming increasingly more automated, and nearly half of them could be taken over by robots in the next several years. But while machines are replacing humans in some sectors, artificial intelligence could also help workers learn new skills and match them with jobs, says Joe Greenwood for Fast Company. Greenwood writes:

Deploying AI to address problems created by automation seems counterintuitive. But the scale of the challenge we are facing demands an unconventional approach. Nobody yet knows if productivity gains from automation will create more jobs than it destroys–which has happened during previous technological shifts. But it’s becoming clear in-demand skills will change profoundly whatever happens. On top of that, Pew Research recently found that 72% of Americans are concerned about machines taking over human tasks in the workplace. The coming wave of automation is often painted as a zero-sum game. As the robots rise, so human workers get squeezed out. But the reality is more nuanced.

Taking a step back, the deployment of robotics and AI systems into workplaces shifts the skills demanded by the job market. It’s rare for automation to completely eliminate an occupation. Usually it takes over routine parts of a job, leaving humans to spend more time on the creative or relationship-focused elements. For instance, bank tellers now handle fewer cash withdrawals or deposits, but instead need soft skills to build customer loyalty and help them with their broader financial needs.

A massive amount of workers around the world will need to be retrained. The efforts to prepare people for an automated future will transcend industries and geographies, not only to cope with automation, but also the digitization of the global economy. By helping workers make the transition on a case-by-case basis, companies that deliver automated solutions and hybrid platforms can play starring roles in helping people remain relevant–and crucial–to the workplaces of the future.

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