An Initial Impact of AI: Jobs

By May 2, 2017Blog

The computers haven’t taken over today. Yet, they are seeping their way to affect our daily lives. Artificial intelligence (“AI”), a term first coined 60 years ago by British computer scientist Alan Turing, is proposed to occur when a question-asker could not distinguish between answers from a human and those from a computer. Today, powerful AI applications had reached a frenzy. From virtual personal assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo, to machines that can play games against human players and recognize complex speech. There is a wide spectrum of applications and examples of AI in use today. While many have noted the potential of AI, the technology is still in its infancy. In this article, we will look into how much of an effect will AI have on the “smart cities” movement.

Smart cities rely heavily on the computers to connect the unconnected. Most often “smart cities” refers to the full use of sensors and networked technologies in cities. Chicago, New York and Seattle are among the top smart cities finding ways to deliver more services via AI, optimize existing infrastructure, and to leverage citizen participation or input to create an entrepreneurial economy.

While AI is likely to affect many factors of economic growth, it has the potential to specifically affect new job creation, office demand, and venture capital investment within the tech sector developing associated products. The tech sector, most basically defined by Thomson Reuters, includes computer hardware, IT services and consulting, software, semiconductors, communications equipment, and semiconductor equipment and testing. Currently, these industries offer a wide range of AI products and services for both customers and other businesses.

Displayed below are the three previously mentioned cities’ employment growth of AI-related tech sectors*. Chicago may not show up prominently within the literature depicting cities generating strong AI technology, but Chicago is witnessing more growth than established AI markets such as Boston and Los Angeles. A key result of Chicago’s dynamic AI ecosystem is job creation. According to PAYSA, the AI workforce is more educated requiring that 81% of applicants have specific machine learning skills. In Chicago, AI engineers earn an average salary of $169K, which is lower than New York’s AI engineers with a salary of $235K yearly (a much more expensive market). Furthermore, the greatest office demand in Chicago comes from tech sector tenants. As such, Chicago AI firms demonstrate an acquisitive appetite for real estate, taking up approximately 4.6 million square feet in the CBD. Ideal office space is limited in supply, therefore office rents growing.

By Yu Xia

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