Al Won’t Wipe Jobs: Google’s Snr VP Manyika

Zimbabwean born  and Google’s Senior Vice President responsible for Artificial intelligence, James Manyika allayed fears of job losses through AI as he addressed global policy influencers gathered in Zimbabwe.

Speaking in his address during  recent 56th session of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) conference for Minister’s of Finance and Central Bank Governor’s held in Victoria Falls, Manyika allayed fears of AI taking over human jobs.

When Manyika was asked if the huge advances in technology, particularly AI, is going to wipe out jobs as is widely feared, the Google boss said: “I don’t think that’s quite right in the following sense, that all the research we have done, I have done, generally says the same thing although people have different estimates.

“The three things it generally says are yes, there are probably some occupations that will decline because in those occupations, tasks involved will be easy to be done with AI.

“But there is going to be some jobs gained that will come from new jobs that didn’t exist before, demand for things that didn’t exist.”

The Zimbabwean born and Mbare raised Dr Manyika said a good example of the benefits of technology is that back in 1995, “there was no job called web designer, because the internet wasn’t quite there yet”.

“Today, if you look at any job classification, there is no job called prompt engineer. But we know people are becoming prompt engineers.”

Dr Manyika instead added that there will also be “jobs changed”, which come when the existing job starts to use technology “assistively”.

“So this idea of jobs lost, yes, jobs gained yes and jobs changed yes. This is a phenomenon we are going to see.

“It’s going to be important to encourage companies to use these technologies assistively, instead of trying to replace workers,” the Google Senior Vice President said.

The event was  hosted by Finance Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Dr John Panonetsa Mangudya, a major summit that gathered Africa’s finance Ministers and their central Bank Governor’s

Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development as well as Apex Bank Governor’s shared notes during the conference that ran from February 28 to March 5 in the resort city of Victoria Falls.

The conference was officially opened by President Mnangagwa this week on Monday and while in Victoria Falls, Dr Manyika allayed fears of jobs being wiped by Artificial intelligence also delivering the keynote address during the 2024 Adebayo Adedeji Memorial lecture that ran under the theme: “Financing the transition to inclusive green economies in Africa: Imperatives, opportunities and policy options.”


Ross Moyo

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