Half of all jobs will be obsolete in 15 years, warns China’s leading AI expert

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Almost half of all current jobs will become obsolete in just 15 years, according to one of China’s leading experts in artificial intelligence (AI).

Kai-Fu Lee, a writer, venture capitalist and technology executive who has over 30 years’ experience in AI, claims the world of employment is facing a crisis. He’ll appear on CBS 60 Minutes on Sunday to spread the word and warn those most at risk so they can start retraining for the new world. Lee also warns that education will need to adapt to prepare younger generations for the new landscape.

File Photo: Lee is the former vice-president of Google Inc. and former co-president of Google China. © Reuters / Bobby Yip

AI may be the future, but it can’t do everything, claims Lee, who says certain professions are safe from the revolution. Especially those that involve empathy or human to human interaction like therapists, nurses, teachers or doctors. Innovative and creative professions are also safe because AI generally struggles to do the work of scientists or to deal with the unknown.

The jobs most at risk in the next two decades are roles than can be easily filled by robot technology, like telemarketers and telesales, customer support, warehouse workers, cashiers, fast food workers and dish washers.

AI will increasingly replace repetitive jobs, not just for blue-collar work, but a lot of white-collar work,” says Lee in the upcoming episode. “Chauffeurs, truck drivers, anyone who does driving for a living; their jobs will be disrupted more in the 15-25 year time frame”.

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