Are We Safe from Robots Stealing Our Jobs?

False Hope for a Dreadful Tomorrow

In the modern age, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is ubiquitous, with its presence felt in our smartphones, homes and businesses. It is now impossible to avoid, with AI development becoming increasingly pervasive and hard to ignore. This means that regardless of one’s opinion on the subject, AI is now an ever-present reality for all of us.

Many have speculated that the ‘rise of the machines’ could lead to a dystopian era. However, it is undeniable that technology has improved the quality of life for humans. Whilst AI can be beneficial in our day-to-day lives, there is a continuing apprehension surrounding its potential for causing harm to humans. This apprehension is understandable, having been reflected in literature as early as the 1920s, when Karel Capek presented advanced robots as dangerous and hostile. Furthermore, in the 1960s, Isaac Asimov created his famous “three principles of robotics”, which further highlighted the potential of AI to do damage. This has been echoed by prominent scientists such as Stephen Hawking, who have voiced their concerns.

It is possible that the full development of artificial intelligence could spell the end of humanity, as its self-evolving capabilities could surpass the biological rate of evolutionary change that humans experience. In this case, the human race could be eradicated due to its comparatively slow rate of evolution.

Despite the popular imagination of robot uprisings, we have yet to experience such a reality. We must ask ourselves: are we heading towards a world like Westworld, where technology is a source of danger, or will our future be more like the one portrayed in Black Mirror, in which technology is neutral, but the misuse of it by humans causes disaster? In order to gain a better understanding of our fears, let us examine some of the most commonly held misconceptions about Artificial Intelligence.

Which of These Common Misconceptions About AI Is True?

Stability in Employment

The notion that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will lead to a significant loss of human jobs in the near future is a commonly held misconception. Concerns about the impact of technology on employment opportunities is nothing new; similar anxieties were widely expressed during both the agricultural and industrial revolutions. Although the number of occupations remained largely unchanged during this period, the nature of these jobs changed significantly, with manual labour being replaced by machines and new industries emerging as a result. It is likely that the same may occur with the current advances in technology.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is currently being developed with the aim of helping people in their professions and making them more productive (for example, in the software testing industry). We can expect that when certain jobs become obsolete, new ones will be created to meet our changing needs and abilities. The fear that machines will take away our jobs is unfounded, but anxiety about potential changes in our career paths is understandable. This should be a concern for anyone who is unable or unwilling to adapt to their work environment as it evolves.

Corporations’ Constant Growth and Expansion

The future of robotics is often depicted as a realm of automation, reserved for those with the financial means to invest in costly autonomous drones and other technologies. However, it is not only the world’s largest corporations that are bringing this vision to life – businesses of all sizes are turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI) to remain competitive. This means that the future of robotics is being shaped by companies of all sizes, not just the likes of Google and Amazon.

Due to the ever-growing interconnectedness of our modern world, even the most modest of organisations can now access a vast array of tools that can help them to stay competitive and enhance their productivity. One way that some businesses have been able to gain a competitive edge is by taking advantage of external expertise. By sourcing the skills and knowledge of external personnel, companies can ensure that they have access to the latest technologies, techniques and best practices, without having to invest in the recruitment and training of additional employees.

It is increasingly probable that artificial intelligence (AI) will become commonplace in both the professional and private spheres, eventually being accepted as the norm. There is no specific time-frame in which any one company or demographic group will have exclusive access to this cutting-edge technology. The current trend of outsourcing and enhanced autonomy for employees clashes with the traditional AI knowledge that many organisations have.

Artificial Intelligence Always Results in Robots that Pass for Humans.

The development of technology such as Alexa and Siri has provided us with the ability to communicate with machines; however, there is still a great deal of progress to be made before these AI systems can replicate the level of complexity and subtlety that is inherent in human conversation. This idea of artificial intelligence becoming indistinguishable from human behaviour has become a popular concept in recent years, and is something that continues to be debated.

Despite the potential benefits, few businesses choose to invest in developing artificial intelligence (AI) with human-like qualities. This is because robotic intelligence is generally designed to fulfil a predetermined set of tasks, and while some are programmed to possess certain human characteristics, they still do not behave in a natural manner. Ultimately, this behaviour is derived from the programming that dictates how they should interact with each other. In contrast, the few AI technologies that do display any human qualities are a mere fraction of the many that do not, since the inclusion of such traits is not part of their predetermined role.

In order for humanoid robots to be able to coexist with people in the future, substantial investment in artificial intelligence (AI) research and development is essential. However, due to the lack of potential profit and a small target audience, investment in this area is highly unlikely. Instead of trying to replicate or copy human activities, AI should be designed to fit into our daily lives in a natural and unobtrusive manner.

Intelligent machines are capable of teaching themselves.

The rapid advancement of autonomous learning and improvement has given rise to beliefs that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will soon exceed the intelligence of humans. However, this overlooks a fundamental truth: AI cannot learn from its own mistakes. Machine Learning (ML) is a data-driven process whereby insights are gained through the analysis of past data, which is then incorporated into the analysis of further data sets. As data scientists continue to supply new information, the ML model is able to make more accurate predictions by drawing upon its own records. This is not a process that happens automatically; it requires the continuous input of new data, as well as the expertise of an engineer and data scientist. Without the support of humans, AI would not be able to make any substantial progress.

The State of Artificial Intelligence Today and What It Means for Our Jobs

By 2030, the McKinsey Global Institute’s recent report suggests that Artificial Intelligence (AI) could potentially replace up to 30% of the world’s human workforce. Automation is being increasingly used to take over tasks that were traditionally completed by humans, leading to a transformation of the workplace. This could result in the emergence of new jobs and even entire industries, however there is likely to be a period of disruption while new roles are created, leaving many individuals temporarily out of work.

As technological advancements continue to be made, lower-skilled, lower-paid professions are increasingly becoming obsolete, with higher-level substitutes taking their place. This means that those affected by these developments must look to retrain and expand their education in order to remain employable. However, this is not always a realistic option, leading some experts to advocate for widespread reforms to our educational system, in order to ensure that individuals are adequately prepared for the changes that will be brought about by the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI). If the labour market is not adapted to the advancements in AI, millions of people could be left unable to find work.

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly increasing in a multitude of industries, including transportation, logistics, energy, retail, agriculture, mining, healthcare, and manufacturing, as companies strive to remain competitive. According to recent predictions, by 2023 only 15% of customer support contacts will be handled by humans, with the rest managed by chatbot systems. Furthermore, call centres have significantly decreased in popularity. Over the next five years, the automated dairy market is anticipated to grow from $1.9 billion to $8 billion, demonstrating the significant impact AI is having on the farming sector. Additionally, the deployment of autonomous haul trucks has been commonplace in the mining industry for over a decade, leading to a reduction in the number of miners working in the United States, which now stands at 670,000. It is clear that as AI continues to spread to a variety of sectors, so too will the changes to the nature and availability of employment within those areas.

Future Terrain

“Dangerous events are more likely to occur during the next five years. Maybe in another ten.”

Elon Musk, the Chief Executive Officer of Tesla and co-founder of several other successful technology firms, has made this assertion. Therefore, what can we anticipate in the upcoming days and weeks?

In recent years, companies have made substantial investments in artificial intelligence, culminating in an unprecedented level of investment in 2023. It is projected that this investment in the future of AI will have a significant impact on the following decade, with estimates showing that 45% of current employment could potentially be automated through the use of existing technology. Moreover, recent projections indicate that as many as 375 million people worldwide may be directly affected by AI at work by 2030.

Over the next ten years, we are likely to witness a significant shift towards nanotechnology. Already, numerous organisations are implementing revolutionary small and smart technology into a variety of industries, such as agriculture, oil and gas, and healthcare. This new technology could prove to be particularly advantageous, as it has the ability to replace the need for human oversight in safety checks, equipment monitoring, and continuous surveillance.

The advent of improved artificial intelligence (AI) speech technology is anticipated to bring about immense changes. Increasing numbers of chatbots, utilising the advanced natural language processing (NLP) technology which is already being developed, are likely to join systems such as Alexa and Siri, with the aim of propelling human-machine interaction towards voice-based interactions. The customer service industry is already beginning to experience the effects of this, and is likely to become even more pronounced when assistants, schedulers, and other employees undertaking voice-oriented tasks are replaced.

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