For what I’m sure almost all your life, you’ve been shown the average path of a job. That usually entails joining a corporation, rising up ladders, and then designing solutions to a specific set of problems. That’s usually what we treat jobs as.
With the advent of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, we’ve come to realize that much of what we do might be replaceable. Imagine a world where your job is being done by some sort of robot, or an artificial person. It’s a daunting yet a very plausible thought. But much of what we argue, in conversations about the future of AI, is often without really understanding that which experts have really found. So, let’s look at what they say!
Here’s what Skynet Today has to say: “Fears aside, it is true that automation of existing jobs has been a fact of life for centuries. In the twentieth century, the proportion of the workforce in agriculture decreased from 40% in 1900 to just 10% in 1950. Now, that figure is even lower - 2%. With more efficient tools, machines, and better understanding of science, agriculture’s productivity has soared in the last century - fewer people were needed to do the same amount of work, and many agriculture jobs were lost. Even more drastic trends can be observed in other countries, like China, where one-third of the country’s workforce shifted out of agriculture from 1990 to 2015.”
Interestingly, Skynet Today puts it as a notion that we’ve been in this situation before. More so, it explains that some places have higher resistance to this technological interference than others. As further explained, “For blue-collar jobs, take the example of self-driving trucks, which numerous startups are working on. Many are worried that they will threaten the jobs of more than 3.5 million American truck drivers. The more likely scenario is that truck drivers will be responsible for city driving and in complex road conditions, while driving on highways will be automated. CEO of Waymo, the self-driving car company that recently began its ride-hailing service in Arizona, says that self-driving cars that can handle all road conditions without human input will never exist.”
But what does this really mean? Does this mean that certain places will become AI populated, and others just human populated? Does this mean that certain areas will just never accept this new technology? Well, all that is speculation, but we can say one thing: technology today is being developed with a hope for coexistence. As the creator of Latent Loops, AI-powered software that helps musicians discover new melodies, puts it, “Drum machines didn’t put drummers out of business, even though people were skeptical of them at first. They also didn’t make it so that every person on earth could construct a sick beat. They did, however, enable new types of musicians to express themselves in new ways. And have a huge impact on the way music sounds today.” So a potential future to be imagined, instead of a bleak, human-less one, is where we become united with AI and Machines to further our own abilities.
While my opinion isn’t of much expertise here, I’d personally love for a future like this one! Effectively, AI and Machines could then act as an “extra arm” for humans. It may give us an ability to look into the depths of data and understand it immediately and use it to solve our own problems.
While they may not completely replace us, displacement of jobs is inevitable. So, as Digitalist’s Shapiro-Das asks in her piece “Rise of the Machine: Will Your Job Become Obsolete?” where will people who’ve lost their jobs to machines work? Can robots do everything humans can do, but better? These are all important questions that we, as humans, will have to continuously answer. They’re not straight forward questions with one-word answers, but they’re such that if we maybe give enough time, it may bear fruit for generations to come.