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Dr. Kai-Fu Lee on the Future of Artificial Intelligence and 10 Jobs Safe From Displacement by Automation

According to Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, the nature of artificial intelligence is such that it will not be able to do the following:

  • Accomplish complex work that requires precise hand-eye coordination.

  • Create, conceptualize, or manage complex strategic planning.

  • Deal with unknown and unstructured spaces, especially ones that it hasn't observed - a good example would be a living area that constantly has different objects in different places, making it near impossible for a cleaning robot to proficiently and completely overtake a human cleaner.

  • Feel or interact with empathy and compassion - humans are unlikely to choose to interact with an apathetic robot for certain services like counseling.

With these limitations in mind, Kai-Fu Lee predicts that the following jobs will be safe from displacement by AI-governed automation:

  1. Psychiatry, social work, marriage counseling, and other types of work that require strong communication skills, empathy, and the need to create and maintain trust with clients - to put it simply, jobs that require a high level of emotional intelligence.

  2. Physical health therapy such as physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic, and massage that all require the ability to sense individual responses in real time.

  3. Medical care that is provided with compassion and encouragement.

  4. AI-related research and engineering.

  5. Fictional writing and storytelling.

  6. Teaching with a focus on helping students identify their interests and figure out how to learn independently.

  7. Practice of law that requires reasoning across domains, establishing trust with clients, and applying emotional intelligence in the courtroom. On the other hand, more simple tasks like document review, analysis, and creating contracts will increasingly be displaced by AI.

  8. Computer science and engineering.

  9. Research science.

  10. Management - roles that require strong emotional intelligence plus the ability to motivate, negotiate, persuade, and create a productive workplace culture.

For more of Dr. Kai-Fu Lee's thoughts on how artificial intelligence will change the landscape of human jobs in the coming years, I highly recommend his book:

AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order



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