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AI Enhancing = Jobs Disappearing. Is It worth It?
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AI Enhancing = Jobs Disappearing. Is It worth It?

by Paul McNeilOctober 25, 2016

Jobs in a long slate of industries are vanishing into thin air due to upgrading artificial intelligence. Drones, robots, or “bots” as some prefer, are forcing humans to step aside. It might seem very tempting to see all daily tasks automated. And of course who doesn’t prefer to live more like the Jetsons and less like the Flintstones. However, all this advanced technology is coming at a price of more humans losing their jobs. While the world in its entirety is already struggling in a poor economic period.

We cannot deny or flee from the future. Bots are taking over many roles in manufacturing plants, banks and even fast food restaurants. The future may seem very bleak, with bots doing much or all of the work. And a single human being is merely supervising the entire process. Who can guarantee AI will not upgrade itself to a point of replacing its human supervisor?

The Daily Mail reports disturbing news citing a new Davos study: “Disruptive labor market changes, including the rise of robots and artificial intelligence, will result in a net loss of 5.1 million jobs over the next five years in 15 leading countries – and women will be worst hit.”

Jobs lost, new roles born

AI and software learning are perfecting the art of doing chores at home, driving a car and etc. Is there any limit to what field of occupation this technology will not infiltrate? The jobs considered at risk include tasks in need of mid-level skills, routine information processing, legal aids, travel agents and bookkeepers. These positions are more or less considered old school in today’s terminology.

As AI tends to take away jobs, it also provides grounds for newer roles. Yet at a price.

The jobs currently being automated remain at the bottom of the skill hierarchy. The tech industry is creating many new job opportunities. However, such advances in technology demand us humans to upgrade our education levels. This comes at a hefty price that the majority of us simply cannot endure.

Drones have high potential in many parts of our society. Yet different drones for various functions will need designers, fleet managers and supervisors to guarantee activity accuracy. And of course, security experience preventing any cyber-attacks targeting the drones. High education and skills are the minimums to be needed for such roles. And with higher education costs skyrocketing, less people have any motivation to enter such sophisticated fields of study.

The role of humans in AI

ai-brain

This entire automation phenomenon is actually accelerated by the human society. Do we feel threatened when a crane lifts a heavy load? Don’t we adore results provided by search engines? Hasn’t driving become more fun with our car providing directions? Facebook and Google have AI-powered face-scanning technology recognizing people after scanning millions of photos in seconds. This technology also supports police efforts in identifying dangerous criminals. However, despots are taking advantage of this to increase crackdown. In this example, not only are more jobs lost, but more lives are lost, too.

Yet the main focus of this piece is what is bad is actually in us humans. Despite the job-loss dilemma, technology is good. There are even reports of AI devices being programmed or taught to be biased in their assessments. This includes Google facial recognition software tagging blacks as gorillas.

We are unable to properly use this technology to both free humans from needless tasks, and improve our economy to provide equally for all and bring an end to the concept of poverty. This technology is making life simpler for a privileged minority. While the disadvantaged majority are deprived of a job. However, we all enjoy freedoms such as those provided by ATM machines. So there is obviously no turning back on this fast-paced trend.

Final word

We are in an era where tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook are more than ever investing enormous time and precious resources into AI research. They are hoping their existing products will enhance and bring to life even newer ones. Even entire cities are becoming smarter. People are forced to focus their effort into learning skills that are considered more complex for computers. This includes creating new ideas, complex communication with a sense of human touch and so forth.

All in all, we as a society need to mature in line with the speed that technology is advancing. This is more of a difficult task than obtaining better skills and knowledge to outperform computers and AI. When will we finally decide to mature as there is no specific age range for this leap forward in life? And the more we delay and push back this necessity, the more jobs we will witness be lost.

Images from Shutterstock.


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