Artificial intelligence a growing threat to jobs


New Zealand is being urged to act now to manage the rapid rise of robotics and artificial intelligence.

Within 24 years there is a 50 percent chance artificial intelligence could be smarter than us. Within 60 years, it's almost guaranteed.

Now a leading business group and law firm want the Government to set up a working group of leaders from all areas of business and society to tackle the opportunities and challenges AI represents. In particular, the effect on jobs.

"AI is an extraordinary challenge for our future.' says Institute of Directors Chief Executive Simon Arcus.

"This requires big-picture thinking, long-term vision and appropriate oversight."

The call echoes those currently being made to governments around the world.

Already self-driving cars share our roads, smartphones control our lives and algorithms predict everything from our risky financial behaviour to our preference for Lorde or Taylor Swift.

Significant parts of the world's economy including finance, insurance, actuarial and many consumer markets could be susceptible to disruption through the use of AI technologies that learn, model and predict human and market behaviours. This has led to many voicing concerns over safety, and the risk of losing control.

Chapman Tripp partner Bruce McClintock says the country must examine what AI means for employment, education, social policy and investment, laws and social justice.

Ways for our sectors to invest more in AI technologies to ready ourselves needs to be explored, he says.

"New Zealanders need to be prepared for the human resource implications of AI."

The biggest change will be the shift of work away from people and towards technology. Within five years, six percent of jobs could vanish globally. The opportunity now is to create new jobs that never existed before.

The global AI industry is set to grow to more than NZ$51 billion dollars by 2025.