The AI Threat: It’s All About Jobs

Google Self Driving Car – Disrupting Transportation and Logistics Industries (Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

This article in the Guardian Newspaper by John Naughton is a lot less sensationalistic than some recent existential scaremongering. Nevertheless, the underlying argument is just as threatening:

but there’s little doubt that the main thrust of the research is accurate: lots of non-routine, cognitive, white-collar as well as blue-collar jobs are going to be eliminated in the next two decades and we need to be planning for that contingency now.

However, the author is not optimistic about that planning taking place for two reasons, one related to our political short-termism, which ignores anything that has a horizon longer than the next general election, the other related to our innate incapacity for dealing with change.

There are other reasons too. The popular concept of AI is still rooted in science fiction (perhaps due to Hollywood movies). This means that any discussion around it’s impact on day-to-day life may be met with a slight incredulity. Only when AI is everywhere will realization dawn on people that planning is needed.

Another reason for not focusing on planning for change is simple economics. If a corporation can replace a worker with an Artificial Intelligence that can operate around the clock, then it is compelled to do that to grow it’s profits.

In any event, commerce will ensure that the current pace of development of AI and Machine Learning will continue and accelerate. The time left for planning is short.

We are ignoring the new machine age at our peril | Comment is free | The Guardian.

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