Automation Jobs Will Put 10,000 Humans to Work, Study Says

May 1, 2017, 6:57 PM UTC

It’s going to take a lot of humans to create the kind of artificial intelligence that could replace truckers, financial analysts, and customer service representatives with robots. U.S. employers will spend more than $650 million on annual salaries for 10,000 jobs in AI this year, according to a study from career and hiring data firm Paysa.

The 2-year-old firm touts itself as the only platform to use AI to deliver personalized job and salary recommendations. It was founded by Chris Bolte, Zachary Poley, Nikhil Raj and Patrick Harrington — all formerly of Walmart Labs and Walmart’s engineering and product teams.

The firm uses millions of data points like job openings, resumes, and compensation to determine the market value of individual skills. Once a worker creates a profile on the site, they can look at how their salary compares to others with the same job title and experience.

Bolte, the CEO, said the platform also makes suggestions on which skills have the highest value for employers or can help them move into an adjacent field. For this study, Paysa looked at the market value of skills and education listed as requirements for each of these jobs and generated a projected salary.

Unsurprisingly, large companies account for 40% of open AI positions. The list includes tech stalwarts you’d expect to see like Amazon, Google[/f500link [hotlink]Microsoft, Huawei and IBM.

Paysa’s report also found that 35% percent of the AI positions require a Ph.D and another 26% specify that candidates should have a master’s degree.

“As you get higher into up into these positions that require really specific skills like neural networks and deep learning, where a Ph.D. is required or preferred, that’s when you start seeing schools having their top scientists and academics poached by private companies,” said Paysa CEO and co-founder Chris Bolte.

But this isn’t just news for hardcore academics, he said. There’s so much demand that one in five of the listings doesn’t require a degree at all.

Though Amazon is far and away making the biggest bet on AI talent, there were some surprises too. For example, Paysa’s top 20 list included mapping and IoT firm Here. The firm, owned by a consortium of German automakers, will spend an estimated $8.5 million to cover the annual salaries for the 50 AI jobs it’s looking to fill according to the study.

Also among the 20 companies is Google, Alibaba, and Andreeson Horowitz-backed augmented reality wunderkind Magic Leap.

If the name sounds familiar, it’s because this time last year Wired named it the world’s hottest startup. And more recently, a report from The Information (subscription required) revealed that it’ll take longer than expected for the company to deliver on the technology it’s been promoting. The report also mentioned that the Florida-based team has had trouble making its technology small enough to be wearable, putting it behind potential competitor Microsoft’s HoloLens.

But it seems Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz hasn’t given up the ghost yet. The AI study counted 55 open AI-based job openings at Magic Leap, and estimates the average gig will pay over $135,000 per year.

Another notable top 20 company: BAE Systems, which develops combat vehicles, ammunition, artillery systems, naval guns and missile launchers. If it fills all 52 of its open AI positions, Paysa estimates BAE would be investing an extra $8.3 million in machine learning talent each year.

BAE recently showed off a prototype of an armed robotic combat vehicle, or ARCV, at the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.


The ARCV is a tele-operated platform. It was designed to be operated remotely, either from another military vehicle or by a soldier on foot with a hand-held remote control.

“He could either follow behind it like we drove it in here the other day, or he could be in a foxhole or … under cover and operate the vehicle on the battlefield,” James Miller, BAE’s director of business development for combat vehicles, told National Defense Magazine.

For all the talk about automation replacing humans, recent examples have so far featured AI supplementing human capital.

Online grocery shopping startup Boxed, which offers customers wholesale sizes and prices without membership fees, just showed how an automation system can be good news for its replaced human counterparts. Boxed retrained and promoted some 100 workers that were recently made obsolete by robots in its Union, N.J. fulfillment center. Many of them even got raises.

“I will be the first to admit that it is not the smartest thing we’ve ever done when it comes to the balance sheet, but it’s what we do,” CEO Chieh Huang told Fortune. “Is it absolutely necessary to drive every last penny out of it at the cost of human livelihoods?”

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