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A.I. Expert Says Automation Could Replace 40% of Jobs in 15 Years

An artificial intelligence expert and venture capitalist predicts automation will cause major changes in the workforce.

Speaking to CBS News’ Scott Pelley in an interview for 60 Minutes on Sunday, Kai Fu Lee said that he believes 40% of the world’s jobs will be replaced by robots capable of automating tasks. He said that both blue collar and white collar professions will be affected, but he believes those who drive for a living could be most affected.

“Chauffeurs, truck drivers, anyone who does driving for a living—their jobs will be disrupted more in the 15-25 year time frame,” he said in the interview. “Many jobs that seem a little bit complex, chef, waiter, a lot of things will become automated.”

Lee’s comments are not necessarily new. Many who support artificial intelligence and automation believe that they can fundamentally change the workforce. But many of those people also believe that while some jobs could be affected, humans will find new opportunities surrounding artificial intelligence and take on new professions.

A growing number of detractors—including Elon Musk, who has warned about the power of artificial intelligence—worry that automation could disrupt entire communities and disproportionately affect low-income workers.

Still, many, including Lee, believe there’s no slowing down artificial intelligence and its impact on society. And he compared artificial intelligence to major innovations in history, like the steam engine and electricity, saying that humans were affected and have “gotten over it.” But he cautioned that artificial intelligence and its impact will hit us much sooner than those other innovations did.