The threat of AI replacing people at their jobs is immense. The numbers of people displaced by AI will be much, much greater.

Conceptually, there’s no task that an AI can’t do better that a human being. The only limitations are giving it enough training and connecting it to a device that can actuate its skills.

People possess no inherent ownership claim to the intricacies of nuanced judgement or precision handiwork. Machines will be able to do whatever we do only better, faster, continuously and more consistently. It’s just a matter of time.

That means there’s a better candidate getting ready to take your job.

It’s estimated that half or more of all employees could see their work either reduced or replaced entirely within the next decade. These numbers are likely low-balled on purpose and often accompanied with assertions that workers will be free to do more strategically interesting things with their newfound free time.

As if looking for work in a world in which your competitors for employment get smarter by the nanosecond, never sleep, and don’t require sunlight or healthcare coverage will be somehow rewarding.

The thing is, these direct impacts of AI mimicking and then surpassing the skills of human employees don’t include the effects it will have on a much larger employment pool:

The people who’s only skills are keeping their jobs.

You know who I’m talking about. For years, I’ve encountered them at clients of my PR firm. People who don’t produce much and aren’t really expert at anything, but otherwise show up at every meeting and contribute some tidbit that makes whatever we’re trying to accomplish more difficult or not as good.

Maybe it’s particularly apparent in marketing. Other functions, like accounting or legal, have to conform to objective truths about math and logic.

Everyone is born a marketing expert, so allowing a dozen people to weigh in on a single sentence in a press release or, worse, any words attached to a conversation about branding will make the outcome twelve-times better.

Or not. Nobody really knows because there are no rules.

I’ve worked with incredibly talented and inspired people, too. But there are always many more people who are only good at staying employed.

When those talented few are replaced by AI, many more will be displaced by it. There’ll be no more meetings to confuse or decisions to gum up, as their automated associates and streamlined processes will give no quarter to open-ended and otherwise wholly unhelpful intrusions. AI only functions according to rules.

It’s not that companies won’t need those employees anymore; they’ll just realize that they never needed them in the first place.

This add-on impact of AI on companies could be a huge positive, as it’ll free them from the unacknowledged and unpriced tax they were paying to humor those professional job-keepers.

As for the future of those millions who’ll find their job-keeping skills no longer in demand?

Maybe they’ll use their newfound free time to learn how to do something interesting after all.

[This essay originally appeared at Spiritual Telegraph]