A London Coworking Assembly Breakfast debate
However you feel about artificial intelligence (AI) the one question that everyone wants to know the answer to is, “Is AI going to take my job?” For those in the world of coworking this is an especially relevant topic, as they try to create dynamic working environments which will meet the changing needs of their members. So, the latest London Coworking Assembly Breakfast, supported by technologywithin, gathered together a panel of experts, educators and campaigners who all work within the technology sphere to debate the topic.
Kofi Oppong, Founder of Urban MBA and co-creator of the event, kicked off proceedings by sharing some of the headlines and statistics circulating to set the scene, such as that 375 million jobs are expected to vanish by 2030, due to AI.
The panel was moderated by Sal Cheeba, Founder at Elysian Roots. She was joined by Andrei Croitor, Creative Director, at OQVA.digital, Paulette Watson, Founder of Academy Achievers and Nigel Twumasi, cofounder at mayamada.
AI is aiming at the mundane jobs first
There was broad agreement across the panel that those jobs which are simple to automate are easiest to replace with AI. The self-service check-out was used as a simple example, now often outnumbering manned check-outs in supermarkets.
There was concern from Paulette and Nigel about the proportional effects on those with lower levels of education, who want and need these types of jobs. Paulette, who works to create a level playing field for girls and young women in STEM, shared her concerns too that the historic bias of those developing technology would spill over into AI and create a gender bias too.
Can AI set us free?
Andrei offered the counter argument that AI should be seen as an opportunity, that taking away the mundane jobs allows us to do something more creative and interesting for a living. Kofi shared that the key benefit of AI for him is that it saves him time running his business, allowing him to focus more on the areas he loves.
History can also help us put this in perspective. Developments in farming, for example, moved us from horse-drawn ploughs to combine harvesters, reducing the need for manual workers doing mundane jobs. Maybe this is the next stage of that story?
Forget the hype; prepare for the reality
Paulette was very clear that we need to not be swept away by the headlines around AI, but really unpack it and consider the good and the bad in more depth. Don’t treat it as something to be scared of. She urged everyone to educate themselves about it, take advantage of free training out there and be open to change.
AI needs ethics
Whilst all of the panellists were conflicted about the pros and cons of AI in the workplace, there was agreement that AI needs rules in place, an ethical approach. Artists, musicians and creators in generals for example, need protection of their IP, whether its their voice, lyrics, or image.
This is just the beginning
Two things became very clear during the course of the panel and debate; the answer to the question, “Is AI going to take my job?” is not a straight yes, or no and that AI is creating a new dawn in terms of how we are going to work in the future and we all need to wake up to it.
If you would like to watch this debate in full, it can be found on LinkedIn.
See more details about future London Coworking Assembly events here.