Will Artificial Intelligence Take Over Our Jobs?

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“Will Artificial Intelligence take over our jobs?” is one of the most recurring Google searches. It unveils that this has been an anguish that has tormented the human mind for decades, since the advent of automation.

Some websites will incite you to key in your current profession to estimate what the risk is that your own profession will be taken over by Artificial Intelligence. It will print out messages like “Automation risk level: totally safe” for professions scoring 10% or less, “Automation risk level: start worrying” for professions scoring an average of 30% to 40% and the disquieting message of “Automation risk level: robots are watching” for percentages of over 70%.

Dystopian Hollywood movies, such as Terminator I & II, do nothing but prove our limited grasp of automation.

AI is Already Being Incorporated in Everything From Financial Analysis to Self-Driving Cars

In fact, given the fact that Artificial Intelligence’s major practical application is processing vast amounts of data generated daily, as well as pattern recognition and data analysis, certain jobs such as freight agents, data clerks, legal advisers, medical researchers, and financial analysts are already being converted to automation. The expansion of self-driving car technology certainly seems to forecast a dark and insecure future for drivers.

Complex data patterns are used in a widespread manner from politics to marketing. Here, our preferences are being exploited to nudge our affinity to a group based on our views or to boost our purchases based on our previous buying preferences. The ads which will flood your timeline on social media after you have clicked on a product or, more unnervingly, after you have discussed an item with someone are a perfect example of this.

Predictive analysis is subsequently used to make an educated guess in increasing fractions of our lives. This can range from which movies we are likely to watch next, based on our previous preferences, what scent of perfume we would wear, which route we would choose for our commute, making many of our decisions instead of us.

Efficiency and Safety can be Greatly Increased When Certain Jobs are Handled by Artificial Intelligence

The upside is that repetitive, dull, dirty or dangerous tasks are already being automated. Fields like construction, agriculture, farming, tree cutting or cleaning are just a few noteworthy examples. Artificial intelligence can perform the same tasks, without risk of boredom or, more importantly, injury, without the need to take time off, with increased capacity of heavy lifting, all of which result into increased productivity. While these basic tasks have disappeared, new job markets have emerged for data scientists to interpret the subsequent big data.

Not only standardized repetitive jobs can be automated. Some of the jobs which would seem less likely to be automated, such as those of policemen, lawyers and doctors can also be affected by the emergence of Artificial Intelligence. Services such as LegalZoom can help manage the documentation from various standpoints, from starting a business to handling someone’s last will, mimicking a lawyer’s practice at a fraction of the cost. Moreover, the system’s increased efficiency makes an otherwise tedious process far more accessible. This can help make any alterations in your life situation as uncomplicated as, let’s say, changing your relationship status on Facebook.

Some of the basic police work, such as speed detection, has already been automated. Other apparently more complex tasks, such as handing out parking ticket fines, based on clusters of information related to potential factors such as the visibility of the parking signs, lighting or road conditions, will probably be conveniently managed by Artificial Intelligence in the not so distant future.

Advanced Medical Research and Automatic Translation Bots Rely Heavily on AI Nowadays

Medicine has been one of the disciplines that experienced the most significant development thanks to the debut of Computerized Imagery. This technology enables medical doctors to better identify, process and interpret visual data. Artificial Intelligence has brought the medical field high-precision robot-assisted surgery, as well as algorithms which help to identify the likelihood to develop certain diseases even before their onset. Thus, increasing the chance for prevention and early treatment.

Translation bots have become increasingly accurate compared to previous years and deliver instantaneous results for free. Deep learning and Cognitive Computing technologies, which mimic learning patterns of human neural networks with units called perceptrons are capable of self-learning and improvement through positive and negative reinforcement without the human bias when faced with negative yet constructive feedback.

Our widely-used Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa type assistants largely rely on such deep learning technologies. One of the possible consequences to this over-reliance on Artificial Intelligence, however, is the possibility of diminished human competence.

New Technologies Often Give Rise to New Industries and Job Opportunities

This is not the first time it has happened. When humanity has veered from the industrial era to the modern era and the long hours were replaced by the eight-hour working day, new industries emerged. People with more leisure time on their hands have created the need for entertainment, thus bringing forth to a new largely different industry and bringing forth jobs which have never existed before.

In spite of the doom and gloom estimates, with experts saying that Automation is bound to replace an average of 40% of jobs in the following years and the World Economic Forum stating that “By 2025 more than half of all current workplace tasks will be reformed by machines as opposed to 29 percent today”, we might need to consider that this paradigm shift might result in the creation of even more jobs than the ones being automated. After all, there are jobs now which could have not even been imagined decades ago (App design, software engineers, etc.).

According to Linkedin, some of the jobs which are expected to thrive in the near future are the ones involving strategy (Emergency Management, Fire Fighting and Prevention Workers, Choreographers), human consciousness, and empathy (Therapists, Social Workers, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers, Elementary School Teachers).

Artificial Intelligence can Ultimately be a Force for Positive Change When Used Responsibly

What we can see for sure is that Artificial Intelligence has already challenged and changed the world as we know it. As for the future, fear is not an appropriate response to Artificial Intelligence. It stands to reason that as some jobs will be taken over by AI, new job opportunities will arise to fill in the void, as has been the case for hundreds of years.

With that in mind, a techno-optimist approach seems to make more sense. We should thus be able to find a way to co-exist with Artificial Intelligence, while leveraging it, to learn how to understand its jargon and use it to build a better world, through education and adaptability.

Jade Stone

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