AI: Nothing Artificial About Future Job Growth

July 8, 2018

With AM/FM radio audience driven by employed persons, the opportunity for Artificial Intelligence to create an explosion of jobs is of great interest.

According to futurist Daniel Jeffries, “At our most basic level we’re survival machines. We imagine terrible futures so we can avoid them.”

In fact, there are several noteworthy insights from his column, Why AI Will Bring an Explosion of New Jobs that challenges current headlines, which focus exclusively on the elimination of jobs due to automation.

“For 1.8 million years humans were hunter gathers. Our only real problems were where to find our next meal and how to find shelter from the elements and predators. Everyone had the same job. Find food. Don’t die. But over time we created stronger farming methods, ways to distribute that food, figured out that crop rotation kept the soil fresh, evolved ever more powerful pest controls and solved the problems of famine and food production.”

“Where once the whole of humanity were farmers now only 3% of the population work the good Earth.”

“We automated the jobs of the distant past and moved up the value chain of creation. That’s a good thing and that is what’s happening once more. It’s just a little harder to see because each leap we make takes us to a higher level of complexity and we have to evolve to meet that complexity.”

“There’s a powerful force at work here. It’s a pattern that goes back to the beginning of human history and continues up until this very day. Each time we’ve destroyed all the jobs we’ve progressed to a new stage in our evolution with more wide and varied jobs, ever more specialized. We haven’t created less jobs, we’ve created more jobs.”

“The real promise of AI is automating away boring work and freeing us up for better jobs. And it’s also about doing the work we can’t do that well in the first place. AI will change every aspect of society. There won’t be a single job untouched by it over the next decade.”

“That’s what makes humans special. We always find a way.”

New Collar Jobs

With business leaders from Richard Branson to Bill Gates calling for Robot Taxes to support workers displaced by technology, it can appear that Universal Income can’t be far behind. However, there are increasing calls to pump the brakes on the death of the American worker.

According to an article in Wired, “Imagine where we would be today if policy makers, fearing the unknown, had feverishly taxed personal computer software to protect the typewriter industry.”

The article continues, “Calls to tax AI are even more stunning because they represent a fundamental abandonment of any responsibility to prepare employees to work with AI systems. In many cases, these are “new collar jobs.”

Relevance to Radio

Fundamentally, this is great news for radio. When people get up and go to work, they are heavy users of AM/FM radio. When they leave the workforce, they become heavy viewers of television.

In the near term, Fast Company believes that in less than a decade, half of U.S. workers will be freelance and cities are woefully behind in making themselves relevant to this workforce of tomorrow.

With more than 80% of AM/FM listening being done by employed persons and 75% of listening taking place out of home, the emergence of smart speakers, which are adept at on-demand, personalized consumption, won’t magically return radio listening to the kitchen.

However, the real opportunity with these devices and their associated skills might instead be to reach people working from home and generate new listening occasions from heavy users.

In addition, creating habitual usage of voice command prompts, which will be increasingly important during driverless commutes, would be another smart investment that pays dividends down the road.

In the meantime, this dual smart speaker approach compliments your existing strategy of driving ratings and revenue with over the air listening by employed persons.

Further, if your city doesn’t already have a strategy to attract and recruit talent, including a strong start-up ecosystem, it’s in the direct interest of your station to get involved in conversations around future workforce development and job creation. After all, not much radio is consumed by people out of work.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone here at DMR/Interactive, thanks for working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO