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Artificial Intelligence – How Soon Will We Be Replaced By Robots?

June 1, 2021

Artificial Intelligence, or AI for short, is used in many different companies and industries around the globe today. We often hear about cars without drivers, supermarkets without cashiers, mail being delivered by drones, and robotic waiters. AI can already write stories, create music, and paint pictures, which is astonishing. And as the years go by we will become even more AI driven. 

For sure, the idea behind AI sounds great, and there are perks to using AI at work and around the home. But, all of this AI talk does make people worry about the future of their jobs. People are very concerned about being replaced by robots, and naturally they want to know if this is actually true or not.  And if it is true, when is it going to happen?

While there is no definitive answer to this question, which we know won’t be of any comfort to some of you, we do know that AI cannot possibly take over every single job. Why? Simple, AI doesn’t have empathy and a human touch! Only a human has these things. Plus, many people believe that AI will take over a lot of jobs, but more jobs will actually be created for people as AI systems will need to be overseen by humans. 

AI will change the landscape of the labor market, but nobody knows when the big changes will occur. The important thing to remember is to prepare in advance for these changes that are going to occur in the future. Join us as we discover more about AI.

AI is it a new and fearful concept? 

AI has been around for years and years, and you could say it's not really that new at all. 

For many of us AI is rooted in the books we read and the films we watch. It is not uncommon for us to see robots and the likes in movies these days, and with the graphics we have today, these robots look pretty epic too. 

Yet, in these films and books, AI is often portrayed in a very peculiar way... There are thousands of stories about the uprising of machines, there are images of malicious androids in comics, and there are always pictures of cities being destroyed by robots in dystopian films. All of this leads to negative images of robots and AI in our minds, and this feeds our fear of the unknown, promoting to us that technological advances are a threat and that they are something to beware of. 

However, this isn’t really the case at all. AI breakthroughs have been happening for quite some time now and in some cases AI has helped people out. Not all AI works seamlessly, of course, but generally AI issues can be fixed. 

The most frightening part of AI is the fact that it will cause change. It will inevitably change the labor market. Yet, we cannot forget that serious changes have been taking place for many years, and have often threatened the labor market. However, all of these past changes altered industries and the way of life, but the labor market always found a way of surviving with the new changes. 

For example, the unemployment rate in the United States has remained between 5% and 10% throughout a lot of major changes. New inventions such as the steam engine and electricity were seen as major threats to people years ago, but their impact on unemployment wasn't as shattering as it had been anticipated. 

It is likely that AI will follow the same pattern, and it will not be as fearful as people anticipate it to be. As with other changes, the introduction of AI is likely to make more jobs for people in the future too. 

Read on to learn more about AI and the labor market.

AI and the Labor Market

According to studies conducted at Oxford University in 2019, it was noted that 47% of all jobs in the United States would be fully automated in the next 20 years. Jobs include those in manufacturing, those who create high-tech equipment, jobs in the transport industry, work related to logistics and services, as well as administrative roles. 

According to other estimates, about 40% of workers could be replaced by robots and artificial intelligence in the next 15 years. However, many economists believe that the development of AI will ultimately create more jobs than it will take away, thus increasing the overall employment rate. 

Will robots be working alone? Automatic systems still need people to manage them. A machine cannot be left in a building all by itself, without someone watching through a camera, for example. If something went wrong a human could raise an alarm or intervene. Additionally, repairs and maintenance will need to be given to the AI system, so a human will be needed here too. Robots will not be working alone.

Automation will likely eliminate repetitive jobs, but highly qualified and flexible specialists are not just going to be thrown out of a job because a robot is on the scene. These people will find other jobs.  For example, specialists will be needed to teach AI systems to recognize objects and to perform human activities. 

So, while it may seem like AI is going to wipe out a whole load of jobs, it won’t actually be the case because someone has to teach the AI system, and someone else has to keep training the AI system too. There will be jobs, but perhaps not the original jobs people signed up to. 

AI systems have been created to increase labor productivity and to free people from monotonous and/or dangerous tasks, and in the long run AI is there to expand human capabilities. This means that AI is not necessarily a threat. Perhaps, we should change perspective to see the advantages it offers. 

Join as we discuss the ethical challenges of AI. 

Ethical challenges of AI

Genevieve Bell is an Australian anthropologist, who is an expert on AI, and she also studies the ethical challenges AI poses on society. In one of her speeches (Ethical AI: Intel's Genevieve Bell On Living with Artificial Intelligence), she shared her view on the ethical challenges humanity faces when it uses AI. 

Here are a few of her ethical questions to consider:

  • Will these systems be truly autonomous? 
  • Does autonomous mean smart or conscious?
  • Who will set the limits and control these systems? 
  • If a system has a certain level of autonomy and can perform actions, who’s responsible for these actions? 
  • How do you decide if the system is good or bad? 
  • How do we remain human in this world? 
  • What will it feel like when we live in a world where systems communicate with each other without human intervention? - There’ll be more virtual communication and less human contact in our lives.

As you can see until a large proportion of these questions can be answered AI will be rather limited to where and when it is used. Below are some examples of where basic AI will be used in the near future. 

Where will we see AI being used in the near future?

We are about to see more AI systems in:

  • Augmented intelligence
  • Chatbots
  • Machine learning
  • AI control systems
  • Smart applications

Testing, design, programming, and recruiting, are already using elements of AI today because it saves time, resources, and makes work more efficient. However, this doesn’t mean that it is going to take over an individual’s job. 

Let’s take a look at ‘when’ we’re likely to be replaced by robots.

How soon will we be replaced by robots?

Yes, you guessed right. There is no real answer to this question. AI is evolving and it is making its way into the different industries, but humans are a long way off from being replaced by robots. 

For example, AI and machine learning are just beginning to penetrate IT areas, and in fact, it’s too early to say if they will actually replace the specialists in these roles. But even if AI did replace people in the IT field, a tester, a designer, and an engineer are qualified specialists who have a wide range of knowledge and competencies that would aid the AI world. So they’d be safe. 

AI is not able to replace people at the moment. Yes, we all observe automation and robotization in different areas of the economy, but so far, it all boils down to the fact that a robot can perform small automated tasks like replacing a person in a factory, performing a simple operation, and even driving a car. 

But, a human will always be able to play their part to control, adjust, supervise, modify, and improve an AI system. 

Of course AI has advantages over people, it doesn't get tired, it’s capable of working through the night, it can pick up on some issues, but it still breaks from time to time. And guess who’s got to go and fix everything when this happens? You’re right, a human!

Conclusion

AI is a major topic today, and “will we be replaced by robots?” is a difficult question to answer, answering “when will we be replaced by robots?” is even harder. 

While there are no definitive answers to these questions, we do know that AI cannot possibly take over every single job. Some jobs just need a human touch and many people believe that AI will actually create more jobs in the long run too. 

The world around us is very dynamic, and things are changing at lightning speed, but this is what makes our lives thrilling. Don’t fear AI, because it’s everywhere, so there’s no getting away from it. Embrace this new age. 

If you have a minute free perhaps you’d like to take a test to see if a robot will take over your job: Will robots take my job. DO NOT TAKE IT SERIOUSLY. 


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