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Big tech companies form new alliance to allay concerns about jobs being replaced by artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence may not be suitable for every job, but it may be suitable for some jobs.

CEO Carol Tomé said on an earnings call in February that the largest layoffs in UPS’s 116-year history were partly the result of new technologies such as artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, IBM plans to pause hiring for positions it believes will soon be automated by artificial intelligence, CEO Arvind Krishna told Bloomberg last year.

Workers are not optimistic about the future. According to a recent McKinsey survey, 25% of business professionals said they expect their employers to cut jobs as a result of AI adoption. And their pessimism is not without reason. According to one estimate, about 4,000 workers have lost their jobs to AI since May. In a poll by Beautiful.ai, maker of AI-powered presentation software, nearly half of managers said they wanted to replace workers with AI.

But some big tech vendors and consultancies aim to counter the idea that AI will cause job losses, pointing specifically to the need for reskilling and upskilling in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry.

The group, called the AI-Enabled ICT Workforce Coalition (ITC), is led by Cisco and supported by Google, Microsoft, IBM (notably), Intel, SAP and Accenture. A spokesperson told TechCrunch in a briefing that the ITC’s mission is to explore the impact of AI on employment while enabling people to find AI-related training programs and connecting businesses with “skilled and job-ready” workers connected.

“ITC’s unique approach will examine and assess the impact of AI on specific job roles, including skills and tasks, and recommend training for an AI-enabled ICT workforce,” the spokesperson said. “Consortium members and consultants share a common view that greater urgency is needed to understand the impact of AI on key job roles in the ICT industry.”

In the first phase of its work, ITC will assess the impact of artificial intelligence on 56 ICT jobs and provide training recommendations for affected positions. The spokesperson said the 56 positions, which ITC has not yet disclosed, were selected for their “strategic significance” in the wider ICT ecosystem and the impact of artificial intelligence on the tasks required to perform the positions and the provision of “promising positions”. selected. entry point for lower-level workers.”

“These positions include 80% of the 45 ICT positions with the highest job postings between February 2023 and February 2024 in the United States and the five European countries with the largest ICT workforces (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands) ,” the spokesperson said. “Collectively, these countries account for a large portion of the ICT industry, with a combined 10 million ICT workers.”

If the goal is to allay fears that massive AI threatens livelihoods, tech companies will need to offer more than vague promises and reports.

The U.S. International Trade Commission plans to release its findings in a report this summer. Beyond that, it hasn’t quite figured out the road map.

“The alliance will determine the scope of ‘Phase 2’ by mid-2024,” the spokesperson said. “As we move into Phase 2, the Alliance may consider inviting other organizations and institutions to join our collaborative efforts to support the success of the AI-enabled ICT workforce.”

That’s the problem with industry alliances like this.

If the goal is to allay fears that massive AI threatens livelihoods, tech companies will need to offer more than vague promises and reports. IBM has pledged to train 2 million people with artificial intelligence skills by 2030; Intel said it will upskill more than 30 million people through artificial intelligence in the same time period.

“Alliance members have set forward-looking goals through skills development and training programs to positively impact more than 95 million people around the world over the next 10 years,” the spokesperson said.

But it’s unclear how many AI characters will be available by then.

According to a recent analysis by labor market analytics firm Lightcast, demand for artificial intelligence roles is decreasing, not increasing. In 2022, AI-related jobs will account for 2% of all job postings in the United States. In 2023, this number will drop to 1.6%.

“Alliance members are committed to developing employment pathways for workers, particularly in employment areas that will increasingly integrate artificial intelligence technology,” the spokesperson said. “This is a voluntary, transparent effort by companies to assess the impact, and identify upskilling and reskilling pathways for technology roles most likely to be impacted by AI… Through this work we intend to deliver real, practical recommendations to meet the needs of businesses and employees. ”

I’ll make an appointment Some Until we see those “real, tangible” recommendations. But I hope that whatever form it takes, it comes with a course of action — or any action, really. Big tech companies have big promises to deliver on, especially when it comes to the future of work and the tech industry’s role in shaping it.

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