Where on the continuum from a total-loss-of-jobs disaster to a minimum effect is the imminent implementation of AI taking us?
Based on my recently conducted individual research, within the HCI/UX/AI Master's program at Bentley University, I have detected several trends seem regressing into clusters, and indicating possible trajectories. Overall, it looks like in the nearest 5 years, AI will have a significant impact on the jobs, but not as drastic as predicted by some sensationalists and dystopians, - putting the near future effect of AI somewhere in the middle of the continuum of how much we should worry. The alarming part is in the specifics of where and how to be while the transformation takes place. And how not to be left behind.
The Scary News: how much will be eliminated
AI will likely eliminate a large amount of jobs in any particular sector - although not all of the jobs, and not at once. So, in the large sector of technology, for example, many jobs will be slowly eroded. A single AI-aided developer, for example, will be able to work as fast and as efficiently as 5 or 500, or maybe even 1000 others. Many tasks can be automated, but a total AI takeover, with unsupervised learning and complete autonomy is not only lacking support in research and development, but in mere understanding of how it could actually work - not to mention the ramifications of its malfunction and mistakes. The question is really how many workers can be replaced and how quickly, and not whether a job itself is on the brink of extinction. AI will is likely to mirror the process of how information technology took over jobs at the beginning of the 21st century: just like buying air tickets online eliminated many travel agents - but not all.
Without naming any particular profession, I would suggest evaluating your job and seeing how much routine it involves. Routine workers: beware. The more routine and scalable your task is, the more it is likely to be replaced by an AI machine in the near future.
The solution to being replaceable is educating yourself to where judgment, strategic thinking, or human touch comprise large part of one's job description. Additionally, a recognized expert in one's field is the hardest person to be replaced, even after 999 less-qualified workers already have been let go.
Because in the nearest future, there still needs to be someone left to oversee, research, maintain, and plan how AI machines are handling their tasks. Being an expert in one's field, combined with some (or a lot) of knowledge in the AI field will probably be the best way to bullet-proof one's current position.
The Good News: routine tasks humans dislike will go first
The tasks that are to be replaced first are those that scale, and those are the ones that humans dislike most, whiles machines outperform humans at them. Yes, a human mind is excellent at tackling problems that have a unique solution, not applicable elsewhere. Something completely new, with unclear limitations, requirements, and a plethora of weighted acceptable outcomes - especially when ethics, morals, emotions, and similar fuzzy considerations are at stake - are the tasks that do not scale. Such tasks cannot be repeated by simply learning the solution, the algorithm, the script, or a set of instructions, and are extremely difficult for the AI to tackle, while people tend to enjoy them. Currently, AI is extremely good at tasks that do scale, that are repetitive, have a clear set of instructions or an algorithm - all those routine tasks that human usually shun and consider boring.
More Scary News: AI is getting better at tasks exclusive to humans
AI is getting much better at non-scalable tasks, such as decision-making based on changing circumstances, vision and other types of perception. This newly-forming AI's ability is starting to encroach on the area that is currently considered to be exclusively human.
Even More Scary News: mediocre quality but good enough and cheap
Just as some mass market and lower quality products unexpectedly took over the world all at once, at the beginning of the 21st century, so can AI-produced products and services of lower quality win over those of higher quality and made by humans. Why? Simply because they will be much cheaper and good enough. Dollar stores, low budget airlines, and fast-food joints have all been onto something - the minimum viable product that is good enough in quality, while satisfying a critical need for a price one can realistically pay. When AI gives birth to an MVP that satisfies enough needs for a price that makes it a good enough deal for the money - the machines will win over humans. And humans will lose jobs, initially.
Unfortunately, such sudden changes are natural shifts - as natural as the earthquakes that accompany the movement of tectonic plates. Further, in an economic system where maximum profit justifies all means to an end, provides for your family, gives you freedom to pay for that latest gadget, a glamorous car, a fancy meal, and a comfortable house - the long-term price of a systematic failure that the society pays is pushed out in favor of the personal, immediate, tangible, and livelihood-threatening arguments. It all means that virtually no single person will be able to tackle this tsunami of AI-created MVP products and services. A simple solution could be to raise the standards of acceptable quality - ethics business decision made internally within a company, and one that could provide competitive advantage. Eventually, quality is bound to improve, through competition and improvements in the AI technology itself.
More Good News: more unforeseen jobs to come
When some jobs are replaced, others arise out of nowhere: just like closing one door magically forces others to open. When new platforms are offered by AI, new jobs related to them will also appear. So, when typewriters disappeared in favor of computers, through this paradigm-shifting event, a whole universe of computer-related job appeared. Such cycles of recurring crises are opportunities for improvement, as much as they are reasons for fear, worry, and concern. One needs only to get ready for when they come.
Even More Good News: human touch is irreplaceable + segmentation
Just as hand-made goods have received a resurgence in consumer interest, commanding skyscraper pricesâ??-â??so the jobs that by definition involve human touch will become inevitably more and more in demand, as more and more tasks become AI-operated. In fact, with the advent of AI products and services, the market will probably segment into 1 - good-enough lower-priced produced by AI, 2 - human-made, individualized, and higher-priced, 3 - AI-made, overseen and edited by a human, high-precision and highly individualized. Considering that all three needs humans in some form or another - this is really good news. For the AI-made, - we still need humans to oversee the processes - just fewer humans than was previously needed.
Even Better News: reduced work days, and MVP vs MVI
As the AI-made products and services scale and cause the lowering of the cost, a decision of shortening work hours to 5 or 4 a day, or simply having more days off, is a real possibility. Why not work only 2 days a week, or only a week every month? It is not only an economics decision, but also political and social in nature. Maybe, instead of giving everyone minimum viable income (MVI), we can provide MVP AI-made products and services at lower prices or for free - putting in place measures to prevent abuse. It used to cost a fortune to fly a plane or to talk on a cellphone from one's car. And look at what it has become now?
Ultimately, the AI - no matter how powerful - will never be left to run our lives all on its own, unless we let it. As long as there are needs, pains, and unsolved problems that humanity suffers, there will always be humans needed to understand and tackle those. And those will be their jobs: even if only to tell the AI what to do, then relax in one's lounge chair, close the eyes, and listen to the sea.
Source: Chatbot News Daily