Are We Safe from Robots Stealing Our Jobs?

Deceptive Optimism Amid an Unpromising Future

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a ubiquitous facet of modern life, permeating our smartphones, homes, and workplaces. Its development has become increasingly pervasive and difficult to disregard, making it an inescapable reality for everyone, regardless of personal views on the matter.

There is a widespread belief that the advent of artificial intelligence could lead to a dystopian future. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that technology has vastly improved the quality of life for humans. Although AI can have advantageous implications in our daily routines, there remains a lingering apprehension regarding its potential to cause harm to humans. This apprehension is well-founded, as evidenced in literature as early as the 1920s, when Karel Capek depicted sophisticated robots as dangerous and unfriendly. Similarly, in the 1960s, Isaac Asimov formulated his famous “three laws of robotics”, which further emphasized the potential danger of AI. Esteemed scientists like Stephen Hawking have echoed these concerns.

The complete advancement of artificial intelligence could conceivably mark the demise of humanity, as AI’s ability to self-evolve could exceed the biological pace of human evolution. Consequently, the comparatively slower rate of human evolution may prove to be fatal for the human race.

Despite the prevalent notion of robots staging a rebellion, we have not yet witnessed such a scenario. We must question whether our future will resemble that of Westworld, where technology is a perilous threat, or will it be more akin to the world depicted in Black Mirror, where technology is neutral, but its misuse by humans leads to catastrophic consequences? To gain a deeper insight into our apprehension, it is crucial to debunk the most widely held misunderstandings about Artificial Intelligence.

Which of these Popular Misconceptions About AI Hold True?

Job Security

The misconception that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will result in a substantial loss of human jobs in the near term is frequently expressed. Unease about the impact of technology on employment opportunities is not a new phenomenon; similar apprehensions were widespread during both the agricultural and industrial revolutions. Although the number of vocations remained relatively the same during this timeframe, the essence of these professions underwent a significant transformation, with machinery supplanting manual work and new sectors emerging as a consequence. It is probable that the current technological advancements may lead to a similar outcome.

The primary objective of the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is to provide assistance and enhance productivity in various professions (such as software testing). We can anticipate that as certain jobs become outdated, new ones will be established to cater to our evolving requirements and abilities.  The belief that machines will displace humans from their jobs is without merit, but apprehension concerning potential modifications to our career trajectories is reasonable. This should be a matter for concern to anyone unable or unwilling to adjust to changing work environments.

The Persistent Growth and Enlargement of Corporations

The future of robotics is frequently portrayed as a domain of automation, reserved solely for those who possess the financial resources to invest in expensive self-governing drones and other related technologies. However, this transformation is not limited to the world’s major corporations—businesses of all sizes are turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI) to retain their competitive edge. Therefore, companies of all magnitudes, not just behemoths like Google and Amazon, are shaping the future of robotics.

Thanks to the ever-increasing interconnectivity of our contemporary world, even the smallest organizations can now avail themselves of a plethora of resources that can enable them to remain competitive and improve their efficiency. Some businesses have been able to attain a competitive advantage by leveraging external expertise. By harnessing the skill and knowledge of external personnel, companies can guarantee access to the most recent technologies, methodologies, and industry standards, without having to expend resources on hiring and educating additional employees.

The likelihood of artificial intelligence (AI) becoming ubiquitous in both the professional and personal domains is on the rise, ultimately being acknowledged as standard practice. There is no predetermined timeline in which any particular business or sociodemographic group will have sole possession of this state-of-the-art technology. The current inclination towards outsourcing and granting additional autonomy to employees is at odds with the conventional AI expertise that many organizations possess.

Artificial Intelligence Always Leads to the Creation of Robots that are Indistinguishable from Humans.

Advancements in technology, such as Alexa and Siri, have bestowed upon us the ability to interact with machines. Nevertheless, considerable improvements must still be made before these AI systems can imitate the intricacy and nuance that is characteristic of human conversation. The notion of artificial intelligence becoming indistinguishable from human behaviour has gained prominence in recent years, serving as a topic of continual discussion.

Despite its potential advantages, a limited number of businesses choose to invest in AI systems with human-like attributes. This is due to the fact that robotic intelligence is generally designed to fulfil pre-established objectives, and while certain systems may be programmed to possess some human characteristics, they do not behave in a natural manner. Ultimately, such behaviour is based on the programming that dictates their interaction protocols. By contrast, the few AI technologies that display human qualities are a minor component of the many that do not, as the inclusion of such traits is not part of their pre-assigned function.

For humanoid robots to exist together with humans in the future, significant investment in research and development of artificial intelligence (AI) is imperative. Nevertheless, due to the insufficient possibility of profit and a small target demographic, investment in this area is quite improbable. Rather than reproducing or imitating human activities, AI should be constructed to integrate into our daily routines in a seamless and non-invasive manner.

Intelligent Machines Have the Capacity to Self-Teach.

The rapid advancements in autonomous learning have led to the belief that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will imminently surpass the intelligence of humans. However, this overlooks a fundamental fact: AI is incapable of learning from its own mistakes. Machine Learning (ML) is a data-driven process that involves gaining insights through analysing previous data, which is subsequently integrated into the analysis of future data sets. As data scientists provide new information, the ML model becomes capable of making more precise predictions by drawing on its own records. This is not an automatic process; it necessitates the ongoing input of new data and the expertise of an engineer and data scientist. Without human support, AI would be unable to achieve significant progress.

The Current Status of Artificial Intelligence and Its Implications for Employment

According to a recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute, by 2030, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could potentially displace up to 30% of the global human workforce. Automation is increasingly taking over duties previously handled by humans, leading to a restructuring of the job market. This may generate new positions and even entire industries, but there is bound to be a transitional period of disruption during which many individuals will be temporarily unemployed.

As technological progress continues, lower-skilled and lower-paid jobs are increasingly becoming redundant, with higher-level alternatives taking their place. This implies that those affected by these changes must pursue retraining and expand their education to remain employable. However, this is often impractical, leading some experts to suggest substantial reforms to our educational system, ensuring that individuals are sufficiently equipped to manage the changes that will be brought about by the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI). If the workforce is not adapted to the advancements in AI, millions of individuals may be unable to secure employment.

As companies strive to remain competitive, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly increasing across a multitude of industries, including transportation, logistics, energy, retail, agriculture, mining, healthcare, and manufacturing. Recent forecasts indicate that by 2023, only 15% of customer support interactions will be managed by humans, with chatbot systems handling the rest. Moreover, call centres have declined significantly in popularity. In the next five years, the automated dairy market is expected to expand from $1.9 billion to $8 billion, providing evidence of the substantial impact AI is having on the agricultural industry. Further, autonomous haul trucks have been deployed in the mining sector for more than a decade, causing a reduction in the number of miners employed in the United States, which currently stands at 670,000. It is evident that as AI proliferates across various sectors, the nature and availability of employment within those areas will continue to transform.

The Landscape to Come

“There is a higher probability of hazardous incidents happening in the next five years, and perhaps even within the subsequent ten.”

According to Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and co-founder of various other successful tech businesses, what can we expect in the coming days and weeks?

Companies have made substantial investments in artificial intelligence in recent years, culminating in an unparalleled level of investment in 2023. It is anticipated that this investment in the future of AI will have a significant impact on the upcoming decade, with forecasts indicating that existing technology could automate up to 45% of current employment. Additionally, recent predictions suggest that as many as 375 million people worldwide may be directly affected by AI in their jobs by 2030.

In the next decade, we are likely to witness a substantial transition towards nanotechnology. Already, several organisations are introducing cutting-edge small and smart technology across numerous sectors, including agriculture, oil and gas, and healthcare. This innovative technology may be particularly beneficial as it can eliminate the requirement for human supervision in safety checks, equipment monitoring, and constant surveillance.

Improved artificial intelligence (AI) speech technology is poised to bring about significant transformations. With the advancement of natural language processing (NLP) technology, an increasing number of chatbots are likely to enter the market, joining systems such as Alexa and Siri, with the aim of pushing human-machine interaction towards voice-based interactions. The customer service industry is already witnessing the effects of this and is quickly becoming more apparent as voice-oriented tasks are substituted by assistants, schedulers, and other employees.

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