Amazon’s chief executive has said robots will replace thousands of workers by 2020.
Speaking to a conference of CEOs from the Fortune 500 on Wednesday, Warren Buffett said he had been encouraged by recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI), but cautioned that it would take a while before machines took over many jobs.
The company’s CEO, who is also the founder of Berkshire Hathaway, has been one of the leading voices in advocating for a return to human labor.
In his keynote address at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Buffett said that while robots are great for a number of jobs, they were not yet ready to replace humans.
Instead, he said, the future of the workforce should lie in the ability to “make new kinds of jobs,” such as “supervised service work, machine learning, machine vision, machine translation.”
“This is a new, exciting frontier in the economy, but it’s one that I’m not quite sure we can even start to explore,” he said.
Buffett’s speech came at the start of an event titled “A New Way Forward,” which focuses on a number, mostly, of the topics that have dominated the WEF conference.
At the same time, however, Buffett also made a series of references to his personal investments.
The Berkshire Hathay chief executive said that he was “very pleased” with his investments in the tech sector, saying he was looking forward to seeing how things evolve.
In particular, Buffett mentioned that he invested in a company called Cloudflare, which provides hosting and web hosting for a large number of websites.
The investment was made after his wife, Lynn, died in a car crash.
Buffeter said that the company’s “performance was spectacular,” and that he had invested in the company to help it grow.
“The investments I made are in the technology sector,” he added.
While the technology companies Buffett and other prominent figures in the sector invest in are not necessarily the tech giants that are often seen as the most dominant in the industry, Buffett has made clear his interest in the future.
During the 2016 presidential election campaign, he called for “more jobs in every sector.”
Buffett has been outspoken about his belief in AI and other technologies, including his recent endorsement of Tesla.
The billionaire told the Financial Times in 2016 that he is a fan of the “machine learning” technique used by IBM, Google and other companies, which is similar to AI in other areas.
Buffetts announcement comes as AI and automation are already taking place in the food, manufacturing and other industries.
The US economy, as a whole, is projected to lose 4.7 million jobs between 2019 and 2027, according to a recent study from the University of California at Davis.