Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) about to replace us all?

This week’s post is written by Ross Garner (@RossGarnerGP). Ross is an Online Instructional Designer at GoodPractice and is studying on the University of Edinburgh’s Digital Education programme.

We already use Artificial Intelligence (AI) every day, often without  realising it. Google learns from our search habits; Netflix shows us recommendations; and banks identify odd transactions on our accounts and flag them up as potentially fraudulent.


“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.” – HAL 9000

But while these AIs are tremendously helpful to us, do they also present a threat?

Historically, advances in automation have devastated some industries but created others. A fall in agricultural labour pushed workers into factories; the loss of manufacturing jobs across the developed world was followed by an increase in ‘knowledge workers’.

The danger today is that technological change happens so quickly that we might not be able to find new jobs fast enough – a danger John Maynard Keynes warned us of in 1933!

In a 2013 study, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A Osborne of the University of Oxford predicted that 47% of US jobs are at high risk of being computerised in the near future. These include transportation (driverless cars), logistics and admin workers (machine learning and pattern recognition), production jobs (robots), service jobs (cleaning robots), sales jobs (cashiers, telemarketers) and construction jobs (prefab homes built largely in factories).

Three years on, with driverless cars already being tested on public roads, it looks like their prediction is coming true.

According to the study, the jobs at lowest risk to some form of AI are those that require ‘fine arts’, ‘originality’, ‘negotiation’, ‘persuasion’, ‘social perceptiveness’ and ‘assisting and caring for others’.

So what does this mean for us, as L&D professionals? If some or all of our work tasks are about to be replaced by AI, how will we we adapt to that change? What responsibility do we have to help our colleagues develop new skills that will keep them ahead of the robot revolution?

And, perhaps more optimistically, might we be at the point where we no longer need to work at all?

Join us in #chat2lrn on Thursday, October 6, 0.8.00 PDT/11.00 EDT /16.00 BST to share your thoughts on Artificial Intelligence and it’s impact on work. Twitter Bots welcome (if they have something to add!)


Frey, C.B. and Osborne, M.A. (2013). The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?’

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