- Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said he fears that rapidly advancing artificial intelligence and automation will create "digital refugees" as people are displaced from the workforce, GeekWire reports.
- Benioff, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said thinking about 65 million refugees across the world this year had him considering "how artificial intelligence will create digital refugees and how people will be displaced from jobs, tens of millions of people across the planet, because technology is moving forward so rapidly."
- The tech industry should be investigating worker training programs and new models of education to rapidly retrain workers now so as to avoid mass layoffs as AI and automation begin to take over some jobs, said Benioff.
While he appeared sympathetic to potential "digital refugees," Benioff doesn’t appear willing to let his company be left behind in the march to deploy AI and automation. Salesforce spent about $5 billion on acquisitions in 2016, Benioff told CNBC in Davos. And in September, the company confirmed it plans to roll out its new Artificial Intelligence tool called Einstein.
A recent report from McKinsey predicted that replacing workers altogether could only work in less than 5% of occupations, so Benioff’s prediction of "tens of millions" of workers displaced are beyond other projections.
Employee displacement due to automation is beginning to happen, however. Earlier this month, Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance said it is replacing some human insurance claim workers with an artificial intelligence-based system from IBM.