AI has the potential to increase productivity and create new jobs opportunities, says Airbnb CEO

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky speaks during an event Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, in San Francisco.
Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky speaks during an event Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, in San Francisco. Copyright AP Photo
By Imane El Atillah
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In a recent podcast, Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky, envisioned “millions of start-ups” and job opportunities thanks to AI.

Since its beginnings, one of the most prominent worries about artificial intelligence (AI) was its risk to cause job displacement and replace human workers.


But in a recent interview with entrepreneur Jason Calacanis in his “This Week in Startups” podcast, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky expressed his optimism about the impact of AI on job creation - particularly for those with an entrepreneurial spirit or a side hustle.

A recent report showed that almost 4,000 people in the US lost their jobs to AI in May while another by Goldman Sachs further claimed that nearly 300 million jobs are at risk of being replaced by the technology.

However, Chesky thinks that AI has the potential to pave the way for more start-ups, and can benefit the field of entrepreneurship, as well as increase productivity in the workplace.

“I think this is going to create millions of start-ups ... entrepreneurship is going to be a boon,” Chesky said, as reported by broadcaster CNBC.

“Anyone can essentially do the equivalent of what software engineering only allowed you to do only five years ago”.

He further argued that rather than putting their jobs at risk, AI can make engineers around 30 per cent more productive which also helps companies save on the “tax” of hiring people.

He later added that for creatives, the only reason to be worried about AI is if they refuse to be part of it and use it as a tool to better their work.

At Airbnb, Chesky showed his open-mindedness to AI and its capabilities, citing how employees are encouraged to use these tools to increase efficiency and become more productive.

As part of his vision for the company, Chesky said that he wishes to use AI to provide customers with a more personalised experience, and explained that the tech can help understand the person and their needs more deeply and match them to the perfect product.

Too focused on job displacement

In all periods of history, developments in the technology field sparked fear of job loss. While the rise of computers, for instance, eliminated a lot of jobs, it created many more that not only didn’t exist before but were also hard to predict.

Similarly, Chesky thinks that people are too focused on potential job displacement, and that there exists a big opportunity for new jobs to emerge.


“I think it's easier to imagine what jobs will be displaced than what jobs would be created,” Chesky said in the interview.

“We can imagine everything that now AI can do. We can't imagine everything it hasn't yet done because that requires us to conceive of what doesn't exist,” he added.

However, Chesky stated that while AI could have lots of benefits, he concedes the quick development of this technology is still worrying.

“I’m concerned about how fast it’s going, and is society prepared for the speed,” he said.

Other big names in the tech industry such as Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak have also expressed their worries about AI’s rapid development and have collectively signed an open letter earlier this year asking for a pause on AI development over its potential risks.

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