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Rich professionals could be replaced by AI, shrieks Gartner

Doctors, lawyers, IT folk ... all lost in time, like tears in rain...

By Gareth Corfield, 9 May 2017

Rise of the Machines Ball-gazers* at Gartner reckon robots could replace doctors, lawyers and IT workers in the next five years. Panic, all ye faithful.

"The economics of AI and machine learning will lead to many tasks performed by professionals today becoming low-cost utilities," said Stephen Prentice, Gartner Fellow and veep.

"AI's effects on different industries will force the organisation to adjust its business strategy," he continued – presumably talking about others rather than his outfit of mystic mages. "Many competitive, high-margin industries will become more like utilities as AI turns complex work into a metered service that the enterprise pays for, like electricity."

Inevitably, the semi-mythical beast known as the CIO must prepare for this, apparently by devising Soviet-style five-year plans that "achieve the right balance of AI and human skills".

Prentice intoned: "The CIO should commission the enterprise architecture team to identify which IT roles will become utilities and create a timeline for when these changes become possible."

We are told that machine learning means an expensively trained lawyer could easily be replaced by an AI system capable of learning, which can then be cheaply cloned across law firms looking to create an army of electronic Rumpoles of the Bailey.

Lawyers appear particularly worried that AI and/or robots might replace them, though AI advocates are keen to insist that it will displace them sideways rather than resulting in layoffs. Feisty lawyerly blog Legal Cheek spotted a study earlier this year which reckoned that adoption of AI by law firms would be slow and that it would mainly be focused on "drudgery" such as reviewing documents for disclosure purposes in commercial litigation. ®

Bootnote

*We are assured that Gartner's balls are crystal, not hairy.

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