Sramana Mitra: I wrote a series called Man and Superman. It makes a point that we’re going to a society where people who have the higher-order skillsets are going to thrive and everybody else is going to struggle. That gap is going to grow. The obvious question is how do you create more superman kind of skillset.
John Roese: I’m a bit more optimistic than some people are because I can see all of the areas where AI is having a positive impact on job creation, but there is a bias towards high-skill, high-function jobs. It has a very significant impact on more manual labor service-type of roles. If you look at it holistically, we probably are going to create more jobs than we’re going to lose. It’s just biased towards the high functioning areas.
However, there are some interesting second-order effects that might make new services possible that wouldn’t have been possible before for people who are still in the services sector. When we talk about AI in cars, most people think about autonomous cars. While that’s true, that’s not actually why the industry is so interested in smart mobility and artificial intelligence. What we’re really thinking about is, how do I actually bring mobility to the non-mobile parts of our world?
It sounds a little weird but in two years in Tokyo at the Olympics, companies like Toyota are going to demonstrate first-generation autonomous vehicles but they’re not going to be cars and buses. Toyota has talked about this. There’s a whole new class of things that should move around. Toyota talked about this idea of taking the store front or the doctor’s office and making it mobile. Today, you don’t do that because the human intervention doesn’t make it a pleasant experience.
If you have autonomous platforms that are actually bigger, completely autonomous, and can be driven by big data and analytics, imagine a doctor’s office that knows where their patients are and what their conditions are. Overnight, it reconfigures itself to be in the right part of the city to make it convenient for people to get to their doctor’s appointment because the doctor’s office came to you, but there was no human intervention involved.
It doesn’t diminish the need to have people in that doctor’s office. It doesn’t diminish the need for people to effectively be able to meet with patients and provide services. There are other disruptions. The fact that you now have taken out a bunch of unnecessary tasks that made us less productive, that can really create a different set of jobs and responsibilities. It’s not just for the high-value developers. It’s for the people who provide the services within the infrastructure. That’s really the aspiration of things like autonomous vehicles.
I don’t know how all that will play out but I do believe that the building of the underlying technology and doing of the mobility tasks in automotive might get disrupted and blow up a whole bunch of jobs. It also might create a much more efficient infrastructure that allows us to scale some of the service economies and other functions that don’t require engineering degrees because we just have a more efficient way to deliver those services.
I don’t think it’s a zero-sum game. I don’t think we’ve thought of all the dimensions of how this transformation up and down the stack actually impacts us. It will be surprisingly better than we anticipate, but it will be incredibly disruptive.