Increased AI dependence threatens job security

SINGAPORE: Professors and thought leaders from the Singapore Management University’s Business Partnerships unit and International Trading Institute are concerned that the increasing usage of Artificial Intelligence-based systems in employees' and consumers' daily transactions threatens job security and questions the essence of being human.

The project team documented 30 examples of people doing their everyday work in real-world business settings in partnership with AI-enabled smart machines to determine what will impact the future work environment in Singapore.

The case studies covered a range of industry settings including insurance and financial services, knowledge work across other service sector industries, healthcare, factory floor production, and field operations across multiple industries.

The researchers cited the 2010 Singapore banking industry migration into data analytics systems. They claimed the system was able to draw on the banks’ existing data sources and external data to evaluate the probability of fraud or financial crime. Prior to the AI application, bank employees were sorting through the alerts generated by the old rule-based system, most of which were false alarms.

Another case study spotlighted the work of product managers in one of Southeast Asia’s largest platforms. Their complicated responsibilities restrict turning over duties which cannot be performed by smart machines,

The academic experts said that the real threat is not about AI taking away human jobs but when people choose not to team with AI. Organisations need to learn how to capitalise on what AI can do, go beyond just thinking about simple labour displacement and manpower cost savings, and find ways to use the technology to create value in ways that lead to new demand and correspondingly to new employment opportunities.

Meanwhile, the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) entered into a three-year partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) to fast track Singapore’s move into being a Smart Nation. The country’s AI research has been at the forefront in aiding people’s learning or automating systems to improve lifestyles.

MIT professor and CSAIL director Daniela Rus said, “I believe AI will improve our lives in many ways, some of which we’ve only begun to imagine. Together with DSTA we can accelerate the pace of progress and put our thought work into tangible technological applications.”

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