The robots are coming. Machine learning, Artificial Intelligence, and automation are already revolutionising society; from voice recognition software on your smartphone, to environmental controls in your home, to automated assembly lines in factories. Automation is not “around the corner”, it’s already here. The rise of the robots is no longer just science fiction.
Business are certainly taking the revolutionary potential of technologies such as AI very seriously. Global investment in Artificial Intelligence totalled $280 million in 2011. Just four years later, in 2015, that figure had ballooned to $2.4 billion. In the first three months of 2016 alone, $1.5 billion had been invested.
By 2018, it is predicted that over 60% of large enterprises will be using AI technologies. In the United Kingdom, finance minister Philip Hammond recently argued that “low-level decision making” in government could soon be handed over to AI, freeing up resources and stoking productivity.
What does this mean for us non-robots? Will our economies adapt, so that jobs with skills like complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, and people management become more important? With robots running parts of the economy, will that free up labour to engage in more creative pursuits? Will manufacturing work be replaced with services and management roles?
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in by Ana, who worries that AI and machine learning will inevitably destroy jobs. She believes that, within the next 10 years, we will need to figure out how to redistribute wealth created by robots or face dire consequences.
To get a response, we took Ana’s comment to some of the speakers at State of Europe 2017, the high level roundtable event in Brussels organised by our partner think tank, Friends of Europe.
First up, we put her comment to Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley and an expert on Artificial Intelligence. What does he think?
For another perspective, we also put Ana’s comment to Lie Junius, Director of EU Public Policy and Government Relations at Google. What would she say about the impact of machine learning on jobs?
We also had a comment sent in from Dirk, who argues that AI don’t (yet) have intuition or emotional intelligence, so some jobs at least will be safe for decades to come. Is he right? Or is it just a matter of time before AI can outperform humans at most jobs? What would Lie Junius say?
Finally, how would Stuart Russell respond to the same comment? Are jobs based on intuition, empathy, and emotional intelligence safe from the rise of the robots?
Can machine learning and creating jobs go hand in hand? Or will automation and AI disrupt more jobs than they create? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!
IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Global Panorama
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