As the global elite prepare to make their annual pilgrimage to Davos, it would be nice if their discussions on AI at the World Economic Forum annual meeting to be held from January 15-19 could make people the centrepiece of conversations on artificial intelligence.
By making the societal aspect trump the economy for a change while deliberating on “Artificial Intelligence as a Driving Force for the Economy and Society”, one of the four key themes chosen for this year’s WEF meeting. In recognition of the basic reality that, irrespective of the miracle technology that it may be, AI ultimately exists to benefit people and not the other way around.
Need Balanced Discussion On AI
The reason for bringing this up is because all that one seems to hear the most whenever AI gets mentioned is about machines becoming super-intelligent by the day, and how increasing use of artificial intelligence can spell wonders for global and national economic growth and, also, boost organisational productivity.
With forecasts made by reputable consulting firms and those engaged in the field of AI getting bandied about all the time to strengthen the argument about the merits of artificial intelligence, especially the PwC study about the potential AI holds to raise the global GDP 14 per cent by 2030, equivalent to an additional $15.7 trillion.
What is heard of much less in comparison is how increasing use of AI is going to make a difference in the lives of ordinary people, especially for those living in developing countries, in ways that they can relate to. Sure, there is the odd mention from time to time about how AI can improve healthcare services, education delivery, etc., but the detailed reply to the “what is in it for me” question that average citizens want answered often does not come through amid all the talk on the great possibilities of the technology.
The Future Of Jobs
Which brings one to the issue of jobs and livelihoods. To those in the employable age anywhere who don’t believe in an apocalyptic scenario where machines take over the world, the biggest question that they immediately want answered on AI is how increasing sophistication of the technology and its deployment could affect their existing or prospective jobs, preferably in the form of a country-wise breakdown. They also want a data-backed assessment of how soon the jobs that AI is likely to take away would be replaced by more, new, and better-quality ones, besides whether the projections made in the WEF’s “The Future of Jobs Report 2023” still hold true.
Getting answers to these questions assumes critical importance for those living in developing countries since their nations face huge financial challenges in providing social security support. How essential these replies can be in the context of India, the world’s most populous nation, can be gauged from the fact that, at over 400 million, the total size of India’s current workforce exceeds the population of the United States, the world’s richest nation.
On AI, the WEF’s “The Future of Jobs Report 2023” had said: “Artificial intelligence, a key driver of potential algorithmic displacement, is expected to be adopted by nearly 75% of surveyed companies and is expected to lead to high churn – with 50% of organizations expecting it to create job growth and 25% expecting it to create job losses.”
Over the years, the annual meetings of the World Economic Forum have played a pivotal role in setting the direction in which the world should move. This role assumes even more significance in 2024 when elections are due in several important countries, and one would hope that the WEF would come up with a clear roadmap on how AI could emerge as a force for good for all. Moneycontrol