In my opinion, AI is not a threat to our society.
Think about it. So many sci-fi movies promote the notion that we will be taken over by robots and live in a desolate, depressing society, enslaved by our own creations.
Image Source: Popular Mechanics
I am not underestimating the potential for AI to have the mind of its own, but, right now, it is more important to look realistically at the situation. AI is finally coming to industries, but it is not coming to disrupt – it is improving our quality of lives. What is under-advertised through modern media sources is the fact that AI will complement our lives, not harm them.
Regardless, I wanted to clarify what an increased use of AI in society actually means for people in the next few decades.
Is AI going to Take Human Jobs?
Yes, but not in the way you think. It is all about common sense. Why would employers pay workers $10/hour for employees to perform a task when you could get a machine to work twice as fast for a $5000 down payment. Obviously, we cannot compete in an industry where employers are getting products made for a cheaper price and at a faster pace. This is similar to the outsourcing of manufacturing. An American automobile company can no longer compete with a Korean one simply due to the immense difference in labour costs.
In my opinion, the industries where AI will likely be implemented include:
- Service and Hospitality
Why I believe these industries in particular are so vulnerable is the fact that there is always possibility for human error. AI eliminates this by ensuring the same performance quality every time, thus increasing safety in peoples’ lives. As well, the repetitive nature of many of these jobs makes them easy to be performed by robots. In transportation, a robot with sensors at every angle of the car is literally programmed to be accident free, which is better than any driver, regardless of how careful they are.
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In medicine, AI will know exactly what is wrong and what to fix, unlike human doctors, who might, despite the best of their knowledge, improperly diagnose patients, prescribe the wrong drugs, or give their patients poor advice. In pharmacy, the mixing ratios of drugs will be the exact same in every product, should AI be used in the industry. In mining, there are no health risks for humans because robots will be able to fill the role. In agriculture, AI can be used to test readiness of crops and pick them in a more efficient way than any human labour. In restaurants, food will always be cooked to perfection, and hotels will be cleaned the way every time. I am predicting that, in the next 20 years, there will be considerably less human workers these fields, if any.
Industries That May Not Be Disrupted By AI
I predict that the following industries will be the least affected by the increased usage of AI:
- Judicial system
- Data interpretation
What makes these industries different from the others? Well, they all share the common element at their core: human emotion and critical thinking.
For example, in the judicial system, a lawyer must be able to analyze and use incredible amounts of information to formulate the best possible theory of the case. A judge must be able to understand both case theories and process which one is more valid in accordance to the legislation. While AI could possibly assist with this, there are simply too many combinations of different cases that an AI would not likely be able to reliably reach a verdict.
In the field of data interpretation, AI can help users to analyze mass amounts of data (ie. climate data or gene information), but data scientists will be required to make inferences from these pieces of data that AI may not be able to as efficiently or readily. Doing this requires critical thinking, which is the core of how inferences are made. Whether we can teach AI to have critical thinking skills parallel to a human is quite questionable, and so, a human hand would be needed for many cases like these.
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In psychology, AI will have a disadvantage due to less critical thinking skills, which give humans an edge on advising and diagnosing others’ mental health. The care and ability to listen are equally as important as the value that is provided by the psychologist. Without genuine emotion, AI will never be able to appeal to humans to the same degree as other humans. In essence, we need to cherish our creative nature as humans because this is what makes us different.
If we really want to make a difference and prepare ourselves for a world of disruption, we need to embrace change by embracing the qualities that we have used all along. Self-expression, critical/creative thinking and the values that we learn from our experiences are what make us human.
Getting creative, practicing entrepreneurship and tinkering are the best ways to adapt.
After all, humans have gotten this far because of the only constant in our lives: change. This era of change is not unlike any other period in our development as our species, so long as we use the resources we have now to prepare ourselves and, ultimately, become better.