Artificial intelligence and automation are going to displace many workers, and the companies building those technologies have a responsibility to educate and retrain employees to prepare them for new work opportunities, said Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff during a conversation with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty at the IBM InterConnect conference in Las Vegas Tuesday.
"We need to take a big moonshot in our country; we need five million apprenticeships in the next five years," Benioff said. "Companies like yours and mine, whether it’s veterans, kids right out of K-12, whether it’s folks out of some other vocation, bring them in and we can retrain them."
Benioff and Rometty also said they traveled to Washington D.C. last week to discuss how AI will impact jobs with White House officials.
Earlier this month, the two companies announced a partnership aimed at combining their artificial intelligence platforms to help "leverage artificial intelligence and enable companies to make smarter decisions."
Now Benioff has acknowledged that efforts like that can potentially displace workers, and it’s up to companies like Salesforce to figure out a way to ensure people can work alongside machines rather than be replaced by them. That means new approaches to education and training.
It’s unclear if anyone really knows what retrained workers to do yet, though. As jobs are automated, today’s workers will be tasked with more challenging, and potentially interesting, tasks. However, what those jobs will entail, and how companies will work to educate and retrain employees, remains to be seen.