Self-employment and the threat of AI
With the development of AI, many self-employed individuals are at risk of displacement. Indeed, according to research from the University at Buffalo School of Management, those in the most popular and lowest paid jobs are particularly vulnerable.
In the recently-published study from the Center for Research on Self-employment, as self-employment and AI continue to grow, those who work in agriculture, construction, driving, and sales are shown to be at greatest risk. In particular, it explains that individuals in routine and non-technical roles risk being displaced by the digitization of their duties.
According to Kate Bezrukova, Associate Professor of Organization and Human Resources at the school, corporate employees have better AI access than their self-employed counterparts. As a result, self-employed professionals find it harder to keep pace with technological advancements in this field.
The study systematically reviewed all existing research into self-employment and AI, comparing its own results with those of 20 published studies of various work contexts. By doing so, researchers discovered that AI poses different levels of risk to different professions.
Generally speaking, in professions that require collaborative working, decision-making and negotiation, AI provides a less capable alternative and, as such, poses less of a risk. Well-paid professions such as management, medicine, law and business are all fairly well protected from the threat of AI.
The work also discovered a potentially significant growth area for AI in technical fields such as robot maintenance and hardware distribution.
According to Bezrukova, the shift is reminiscent of the computer revolution decades ago, when many feared that computers would negate the need for human workers. In fact, she explains, employment changed shape and more IT positions became available as the increased use of computers and networking provided an increased requirement for technical support.
For future awareness, the study suggests that public awareness campaigns should be created to underline the risks and opportunities posed by AI. Further, it holds that education curriculums should be updated to include modern skills and tools and that further research should better examine employee-use of AI, particularly among self-employed individuals.