The robots are coming for your jobs, so they say. In an age where jobs are rapidly being over taken by the new wave of robot intelligence, it is surely fear inducing for people which are on the precipice of being left out. But yet this fear is not new, nearly two centuries ago the same thing happened, in retrospect we now call it the “industrial revolution”, however people of those times did not seem to think so, they spoke of the “demon of mechanism” where this “demon” possessed huge disruptive power to dislodge whole industries of workmen.

​Today AI(artificial intelligence), is threatening the same, with ever looming implications as with two centuries ago. The impact of the new wave of AI is set to be profound, workers with jobs whom were previously thought to be impossible to automate are being threaten, from legal clerks to accountants to radiologist. ​Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne from Oxford estimates that 47% of jobs in the US are “at risk” of being automated in the next 20 years.

The AI Game Change

Begging the question, what will happen to the ones affected. In short Automation will inevitably lead to redundancy in certain roles. It’s only logical to assume that if AI robots are capable of performing the majority of a lower-skilled employee’s tasks, it’s makes much more economical sense when making a business decision to shift those roles to technology, this in turn makes certain roles obsolete. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that we’re doomed to a future of AI taking over all jobs. The truth is that while automation may eliminate some jobs, the silver lining would be that it also creates new roles and opportunities for human workers to pursue.

It is also inconceivable to think that all roles would be easily replaced by AI, rather then see it as machines and humans working independently, the two should be working in tandem toward the greater good of an organization. For example, process automation can be used to take care of most of the menial tasks, taking over repetitive IT tasks while seamlessly transferring more complex decision making to human workers. AI can also be highly effective in helping business leaders make smarter, more data-driven decisions.

As artificial intelligence continues to experience exponential growth, the very definition of what we consider to be mundane or routine will also continue to change. With smarter technology, more and more tasks will be shifted to machines which can handle the data mining process, identifying, extracting and organizing the most relevant information available. Managers can then use this information to more accurately project and plan for the future.

What sort of future work?

Technology as a threat and as a job creator, artificial intelligence will create all sorts of work, To take one example, more and more people are supplying digital services online via what is sometimes dubbed the “human cloud”. Although odd it would seem that, many are offering their services in response to AI. Employers are also starting to see the “human cloud” as a alternative way have work done. White-collar jobs are chopped into hundreds of smaller projects or tasks. So long as they have an internet connection, anyone is able to take up these tasks, they make up the “human cloud”.

Some of these tasks are as simple as looking up phone numbers on the web, typing data into a spreadsheet or watching a video while a webcam tracks your eye movements. Others are as complex as writing a piece of code or completing a short-term consultancy project. These jobs typically bring in at least a few dollars an hour.

In 2016, firms such as UpWork, and freelancer.com earned about $6bn in revenue, according to Staffing Industry Analysts, a market researcher. There are those who prefer to have work in smaller bites, for these people, they can use “micro-work” sites such as Mechanical Turk, a service operated by Amazon, which in 2011 boasted, 500,000 “Turkers”. These “Turkers” then perform tasks such as translation, audio and video transcription, categorization and tagging, often earning no more than a few cents for each “human-intelligence task”.

Microsoft Research, see services such as UpWork and Mechanical Turk as early signs of things to come. They expect much human labour to be split up into separate tasks, which can be delivered online and complimentary with AI offerings. For example, tour agencies could potentially use AI to handle routine tasks, like booking tickets, more complicated tasks such as planning for custom itineraries would then be handled by humans.

The AI threat is looming and will be exciting for companies which are willing to embrace the future, for workers affected it is disconcerting on the onset but a silver lining exists and would represent opportunities for new job creation. Hence, AI should not be feared, but embraced.

Author: Xaltius

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