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AI and what it means for those who are 50-plus

Updated: May 30, 2020

Artificial intelligence, or AI as it is commonly known, includes machine learning as well as robots. Developments will affect how we learn, live and play and should help to make life easier for the older generation by combating disease, for example. Robots might also be employed for cleaning.

PwC (2017) predicts significant economic impacts. It estimates that AI could add US$15.7 trillion a year to global GDP by 2030, equivalent to a 14 percent boost in today's output. $6.6 trillion of this is predicted to stem from increased productivity due to businesses automating processes and augmenting the capabilities of their existing workforce and $9.1 trillion from an increase in consumer demand, from the availability of higher quality AI-enhanced products and services.

The biggest productivity gains are predicted to be in capital intensive sectors like manufacturing and transport because their operational processes are very susceptible to automation. This includes the productivity impacts of autonomous vehicles.

AI has been around since 1956, and has been widely used in everyday activities, including navigation apps, streaming services, smartphone personal assistants, ride-sharing apps, home personal assistants, and smart home devices. AI is also used to schedule trains, assess business risk, predict maintenance, improve energy efficiency, and money-saving tasks.

What of the future? As Carole Railton says: “AI will have a major impact on older people's lives. When we look at the future we will see higher levels of intelligence emerging in dating apps, travel management, interactive shopping. And when AI gets hold of our speech patterns and makes decisions for us, we will not be able to talk behind someone's back. It will be important to say what you mean and be honest as AI will misrepresent you in the wider world. AI will be able to make decisions based on previous conversations, buying patterns and behaviours.”

What we do know is that as society progresses the risks will increase. So how can AI be harnessed for the good of humankind? Going forward, it will be important to protect against things like the misuse of data and criminal behaviour. AI will soon be able to control almost anything. Will we be able to interact with humans in the workplace or will we have to work through the various robots and systems that have been put in place?

It is important for everyone to keep their eyes on the future, to know what skills will be needed and why, and to know what gaps there are in the market and how they could be filled.

Hopefully, our future work environments will likely be more personalised and healthy than before and a greater reduction in the number of humans working is expected. In terms of employability, those most in demand in this new world of work are likely to be those that can adapt to these new technologies and integrate their working with robots and AI.

Sadly, it is generally accepted that older workers do not fit the brief. However, many early adopters of technology are those over 50, those that need to be in communication with their well-travelled families. This age group took to Skype before others and can easily be helped to adapt and contribute to this new world of work.

The view that people 50-plus can’t cope with technology must change. Behavioural Shift aims to be in the forefront of this change.

Photo: by Carole Railton (copyright) AI can help everyone who is 50 plus

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