Everyone is talking about it. I am not talking about the newest iPhone or latest book by Stephen King, but rather artificial intelligence and how it will impact the job market. Some boast the fearful unemployment numbers; others boast potential (currently unknown) job creation.
Jobs are at the center of this next wave of artificial intelligence and given how the internet threw a wrench into Blockbuster, Sears, Walmart, and other businesses’ plans in the early 2000s; it makes sense for businesses and people to be worried about another potentially ground-breaking business-shattering innovation. According to a survey done by Pew Research “Americans are roughly twice as likely to express worry (72%) than enthusiasm (33%) about a[n AI] future” (Forbes, 2018). While some fear job loss, Erik Brynjolfsson and Daniel Rock, with MIT see jobs as merely evolving and AI taking over certain aspects of jobs (aka tasks) but not the jobs themselves.
In recent years, statistics and reports have popped up everywhere. As Byron Reese of Singularity Hub (arguing that AI would increase the job market) notes that some reports such as the one created by Carl Frey and Michael Osborne have been “distorted”. The report is cited as saying that 47% of jobs will disappear, while the authors say that 47% of jobs will have tasks that will be able to be automated. Looking at the report myself and reading: “47 percent of total US employment is in the high risk category, meaning that associated occupations are potentially automatable over some unspecified number of years.” It is easy to see how confusion could exist. Though, still “unspecified number of years” could mean anywhere from “in 10 years” to “in 100 years”.
In other parts of the world, AI is already being looked at not to replace humans but supplement them (and make up for staffing shortages). According to Nurse.org, Japan has been facing insufficient staffing for elderly care. This insufficient staff is causing family members of the elder (in need of caring for) to have to leave their jobs in order to dedicate time to caring for the elderly family member(s). Due to the staffing shortage those in the healthcare industry are suffering from stress and burn-out. It is for this reason, again, according to Nurse.org, that Japan is looking towards robotics and AI for help.
So, whether you think AI is going to take over the world or merely automate small tasks, most of us can agree that AI will likely play some part in the future. Here’s to hoping whatever happens, it is for the betterment of the world.