Once little more than science fiction, AI has seemingly found its way into every aspect of our daily lives. Algorithms and robots are no longer limited to repetitive manual labor tasks. Now even creative professions such as writers and journalists are at risk of being replaced by AI.

Is any profession safe?

When it comes to crunching numbers, even the smartest human is no match for the most basic computer. It seems only natural, then, that companies would consider ditching human economists (among other professionals) in favor of machines. There seems to be plenty that humans can’t do and no end to what computers can learn.

But as some would argue, the increase in processing power dictated by Moore’s Law comes at the expense of an economic pillar: an innate understanding of human nature. Humans may still have unique insights into other humans that machines cannot match. At least not yet.

Think about how economics play into everyday business. Is an AI algorithm capable of reading the room? Can it parse the human behavior behind emerging trends? Can it predict the next big thing in time for your company to be a part of it? If the answer to any of these is no, we might still, at least, need human economists.

Expert economic advisor Jesper Koll shares his thoughts on the future of human economists in business.


” Being an economist, understanding how resources are allocated, I think is an absolute 21st century skill. It is not something that an AI algorithm can do. “

Jesper Koll

Transcript:

Does every company need a human economist?

Jesper Koll:

Economics is studying the allocation of resources. This really includes everything, whether it is labor, whether it is money, whether it is intellectual property, whether it is oil, or whether it is Bitcoin. Economists study how do we get from somebody creating and selling to somebody wanting and buying.

That’s the study of economics, the allocation of resources. How does that actually go on?

Should every business hire an economist?

Every business should have an economist or somebody who is trained in economics on their team. In fact, I would argue that every team needs to have an economist. Being an economist, understanding how resources are allocated, I think, is an absolute twenty-first century skill. It is not something that an AI algorithm can do. It’s something that, at the end of the day, does require human judgment.

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Because when you think about it, a lot of the super hit products, when you look back in history based on an AI or just an algorithmic analysis, a lot of the sort of “dare-doing” hit products should never have succeeded. In Japan, Pokémon for example. An AI would have told you, “This is completely crazy. This can never work.” But here it is, it turned into a super-duper hit product very, very quickly.

So the judgment by a human, the judgment of somebody who does apply not just the science and the algorithms of economics, but also human judgment—at the end of the day, that’s absolutely key.

Will AI someday replace human economists?

I firmly believe that the allocation of resources—the buying and the selling that goes on at the end of the day—is not going to be robots buying products or consuming services. It’s always going to be humans. And thank God! Humans have quirks that no AI, hopefully, will ever be able to understand. It’s exactly exploiting these sort of quirks, that sort of individuality—how does something all of a sudden become a mass movement?

That’s the sort of stuff where human nature will always prevail over any form of machine going forward.

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