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Technology

Innovations will eat up jobs, but they will also create new ones

artificial intelligence
AI is already a great transformer, improving the efficiency of many sectors and driving economic impact. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

That emerging technologies are threatening to take away jobs initially done by humans, is no longer news.

The fourth industrial revolution is here and promises to bring even more revolutionary changes to the workplace. Research predictions show that around five million jobs globally may be affected by automation by 2020.

However, it is not all gloom and doom. Microsoft Executive Global Sales, Marketing and Operations president Jean-Philippe Courtois notes that with some roles disappearing, new jobs are being created in their place every day.

“In fact, 80 percent of the jobs we expect to see as soon as 2025 don’t even exist yet,” he said in an interview.

Automation, he says creates an opportunity to embrace new jobs that require new skills and “the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn new skills quickly”.

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the emerging technologies whose impact is beginning to be felt. AI is already affecting lifestyles in a variety of ways — think smart phones, social media feeds, mobile banking and finance, video games and home devices such as smart lights.

Mr Courtois says AI is already a great transformer, improving the efficiency of many sectors and driving economic impact.

“Today, AI is the driving force behind many of industry’s most significant innovations and transformations and playing a key part in driving economic growth,” he said.

FarmBeats is one such project that is transforming farmers’ lives across Africa. The end-to-end internet of things (IoT) platform for agriculture puts AI and machine learning at its core.

It enables data-driven decisions via an app to help improve agricultural yield, lower overall costs and reduce the environmental impact of agricultural production.

Cloud computing — storage of programmes, documents and data on the Internet—is also an emerging technology.

According to research by Microsoft, carried out in conjunction with IDC, cloud computing has the potential to generate more than 515,000 jobs across key markets in the Middle East and Africa by 2022.

Kenya just like most countries in the world still grapples with skills gap which have stood in the way of effectively utilising cloud computing.

A recent worldwide survey conducted by Microsoft found that 37 percent of respondents in the region cite lack of skills as the main barrier to cloud adoption.

“As the nature of our jobs change, thousands of people in the region will need to learn new skills that we know will be in great demand in the future,” said Mr Courtois during a visit in the country.

This is what informed the recent unveiling of Cloud Society initiative, a digital skills learning platform which helps technology professionals to improve their skills and become potential cloud experts.

Locally, the programme has 8,789 members to date, with a further 2,693 being Microsoft Partner Network partners.

“Our latest course enrollment figures stand at 126,000, and we only see this number increasing as digital transformation continues to positively impact economies across the continent,” he said.

It is evident that digital transformation is impacting every aspect of society and that individuals and businesses that will fare best are those that embrace the new technologies.

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