Predictions have been common this year about the loss of jobs because of Artificial Intelligence (AI). We’re being warned that AI will learn how to perform our jobs and render us unnecessary. Should we worry? Or are the fears about AI proof of failing to learn from history?
History shows that fears about job losses from technological advancements in the automation of weaving during the 18th and 19th centuries were irrelevant. The Luddites destroyed automated looms in an attempt to protect their craft-based skills. They feared that they’d become unnecessary and unemployment would surge. But automated weaving was a pillar of the industrial revolution and generated thousands of jobs indirectly and directly in England. The jobs comprised everything done in the spinning mills, plus the production, distribution, and transportation of raw materials and end products, storage, retail and wholesale sales, and the incorporation of the Manchester Cotton Exchange to allow hedging against future prices. Although it was understandable, the Luddite’s mentality was so wrong that economists came up with the phrase “Luddite Fallacy.”
The Luddites considered that technological improvement would inevitably generate unemployment and is harmful to the macro-economy. But, if technological innovation results in lower labour input requirements in a specific sector, the industry-wide production costs would fall. This decreases the competitive prices and increases the balance supply point, which requires increased aggregated labour inputs (Jerome, 1934).
Today, 21st-century people must know that any tech innovations won’s result in mass unemployment. New technologies and tech paradigms create jobs and improve the economies.
Five Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Fear AI
1. AI doesn’t replace people’s work, it does what people can’t do
When debating AI, people make the mistake of assuming that AI replaces the work they do. But it doesn’t. AI does the work, which people can’t do at all, or can’t perform easily or sufficiently well in a reasonable period. AI does the work already done by machines but does it better than the current machines.
In the past, people used computer modelling machines and digital calculators to do most of the things which AI can do better and faster now or in the future. The same people can use AI techniques including pattern recognition for meta-analysis of Big Data from a wide range of sources. Investment management services provided by robo-advisors is an example of a data-driven process replaced by better AI machines.
Algorithm driven methods through online services were simplistic and clucky. Artificial Intelligence attributes a level of sophistication to this service, which exceeds the capabilities of other algorithms. The result? No human is replaced but it makes many humans happy. AI is a supplementary technology, which opens a wide range of opportunities to government, medicine, science, technology, education, logistics, and commerce. With the help of AI techniques of machine learning, natural language processing, deep learning, and cognitive computing, businesses and people can automate processes better, gain insights, and produce better things in better ways. Non-intuitive insights from information can develop and confirm new business, economic, and investment strategies. In commodity and capital markets, the more efficient use of capital thanks to AI tools can stimulate economies through higher investment capital.
2. AI doesn’t destroy jobs, it creates more jobs
During the 18th and 19th centuries, factories created millions of new jobs. At the DataArt yearly fintech event, Rohit Talwar – business futurist – showed that AI unleashes the potential of humans to do more, faster, better, and bigger. AI allows people to do things they always wanted to do plus more, which they haven’t considered. It’s how new jobs are created. AI created more jobs already than it’s replaced. According to Constellation Research, the market for AI will value $40 billion by 2015, and $100 billion by 2020. Many of the jobs created by AI never existed before.
3. AI creates new jobs in every industry using it
Aside from pure AI jobs, there’s an increased number of jobs available in industries using AI technology to perform new things or old things better. This, in turn, created increased demand and more jobs. For example, take cyber-security. Cyber-security uses a variety of AI techniques and approaches, including pattern recognition, deep learning and logic to maintain data, money, and identities safe. Yet, there’s a wide gap, which companies are struggling to fill available open positions. The ISACA, which is a non-profit information security advocacy group, expects there will be a worldwide shortage of 2 million cybersecurity experts by 2019. Artificial Intelligence will power the financial services and capital markets by offering anti-money laundering technologies and processes and a variety of risk management methods, such as “Regtech.” Regtech is an AI-based technology, which ensure regulatory compliance by resolving and making sense of a variety of incomplete or conflicting data sources.
4. AI will save us. It won’t kill us
Instead of worrying about something, which won’t ever happen such as world destruction by AI, we should concentrate on how many lives AI is saving thanks to the use in medicine and surgery. Consider how many people are being fed more cheaply by advanced agricultural technologies powered by AI, or how AI is keeping your online identity safe and the information in our banks. Rohit Talwar considers the positive mentality as the difference between Start Trek thinking vs Star Wars thinking.
5. We’ll never be prepared
Were we prepared for the internet, which is part of the 3rd industrial revolution, and all it brought with it? No. Because we couldn’t foresee the new business models the internet would enable.
The irony of change in business is that it’s the only thing that guarantees that real change doesn’t occur. Real change can’t be managed. It’s almost always a reaction to important environmental change, including threats and opportunities created by innovative business models supported and powered by technological advancements. Who can foresee what a large number of new technological innovations could generate if they appeared at once?
Technologies including nanotech, conscious technology, atomically precise engineering, hyper-connected internet of humanity, synthetic biology, mixed reality living, brain uploading, human augmentation, AI, and the internet of everything are just a few. Nobody can understand the new business opportunities and models, which these technologies will create. We can only be sure they’ll create huge numbers of new jobs and businesses around the world. We should be grateful for it. Don’t smash and don’t be scared of the looms.