Jack Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, sees serious change on the horizon. In the next 30 years, artificial intelligence will outpace human knowledge, leading to job loss, the billionaire tells CNBC’s David Faber.
“The new wave is coming. Jobs will be taken away,” Ma says. “Some people, who catch up [with] the wave, will be rich, will be more successful.”
But for those who fall behind, says Ma, the future will be “painful.”
At the heart of the fast-approaching technological new age, Ma says, is data. According to his projections for the future job market, skills associated with data and its analysis will become extremely valuable.
“The world is going to be data,” Ma says. “I think this is just the beginning of the data period.”
Alibaba holds an incredible amount of data on its customers, many of whom visit the website several times a day. That trove of information, Ma explains, has opened his eyes to what the world will look like in the coming decades.
“We think data is going to be so important to human life in the future,” he says. “Tomorrow [with the Internet of things], everything will be connected.”
Ma isn’t the only business leader emphasizing the importance of analytical skills. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is working on a project to link the human brain with computers, which would improve the human brain’s “incredibly low” data processing speed. Microsoft co-founder and futurist Bill Gates says the ability to harness information will transform global health and prevent the spread of illnesses.
Eric Schmidt , executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet and Jonathan Rosenberg, adviser to CEO Larry Page , agree that data analytics is the top skill young professionals should learn more about.
“By data analytics,” Schmidt says, “I mean a basic knowledge of how statistics works, a basic knowledge of how people make conclusions over big data.”
“I think a basic understanding of data analytics is incredibly important for this next generation of young people,” the executive chairman says. “That’s the world you’re going into.”