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?

Curious to know more about machine learning and jobs? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).

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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34 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Matej Zaggy Zagorc

    Probably. On one hand this could create an almost utopian society where AI takes care of the hardest of jobs with the lowest pay. But that would require a restructure of society so I’m guessing we cam expect the exact opposite.

  2. avatar
    Erik Jakub Citterberg

    Yes, but there is no other way. You can suppress technology in your country, but the be prepared to be surpassed by those who embrace it.

  3. avatar
    Craig Willy

    Yes, most people are becoming less useful. It will be hard for many to find a job or a sense of purpose. The former may be resolved by Universal Basic Income, the latter is trickier.

  4. avatar
    Mawdo Jawo

    Yes , yes and yes … New kind of jobs will be created which AI can’t do it do alone

  5. avatar
    James Arnold

    They say that work will be redefined by 2030 and most people will be working part-time but still well paid. Working from home will vastly increase as video technology creates a massive development . On line factories and on line everything will be the order of the day. All managing robots and services remotely. Mad world!

    • avatar
      Paul X

      The technology is already available that would allow millions of people to work from home but the majority do not, why’s that do you think?

  6. avatar
    Ronny Wouters

    There is not a single shred of evidence regarding A. I. Looking for something new to worry about? I bet global warming really fooled yall. You’ve watched too much sci-fi.

  7. avatar
    Maricela Potoc

    Yes, that is why EU needs to find a solution to provide a decent life for everyone. It’s not a matter of „if”, it’s a matter of „when”. We need to rethink the distribution of wealth.

  8. avatar
    Hr Tom Mosen

    the only ones claiming that robots will create more jobs, are the ones that dont understand howmany jobs have been lost to mechanization, automatization, and machinery…

  9. avatar
    Allin Gray

    Can we get over this “everyone has to have a job” thing and just sort a good system of wealth distribution? Provided we don’t toast the planet, more mechanisation equals better-off human beings.

    • avatar
      Allin Gray

      With the qualification that the benefits of technology are distributed fairly.

  10. avatar

    Well machines/robots/etc will have advantages and disadvantages.

    +Easier work, more family time, do harder jobs maybe.
    -Will leave lots of people without jobs, and that may create a depression (economic or mental problems).

    I guess for the eugenics/depopulation crowd robots are wonderful.
    But imo they have positive and negative.

  11. avatar
    カメニャク マリオ

    If it continues like this, eventually there will be no point in inventing further jobs.

    Then IMO we will have 3 choices, the masochism of continuing to work just for the sake of work, genocide of the useless population or universal basic income.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      How can UBI work when robots don’t pay tax?

  12. avatar
    Leon Franco

    Knowing Human Intelligence thinking process,

    I predict there will be a group of people who are inclined to agree there it would create more jobs then it will disrupt….

    Those are the ones the Robots will replace.

  13. avatar
    Leon Franco

    Knowing Human Intelligence thinking process,

    I predict there will be a group of people who are inclined to agree there it would create more jobs then it will disrupt….

    Those are the ones the Robots will replace.

  14. avatar
    Leon Franco

    Knowing Human Intelligence thinking process,

    I predict there will be a group of people who are inclined to agree there it would create more jobs then it will disrupt….

    Those are the ones the Robots will replace.

  15. avatar
    Leon Franco

    Knowing Human Intelligence thinking process,

    I predict there will be a group of people who are inclined to agree there it would create more jobs then it will disrupt….

    Those are the ones the Robots will replace.

  16. avatar
    Paul X

    Robots will never fully replace people in many jobs for one simple reason, no matter how advanced their AI and “learning” abilities are, they will never have the lateral thought process required to deal with the random stupidity of some humans

    07/05/2018 Andrus Ansip, European Commissioner for the Digital Single Market and Vice President of the European Commission, has responded to this comment.

    07/05/2018 Professor Nick Bostrom, Director at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute and Director of the Governance of Artificial Intelligence Program, has responded to this comment.

    07/05/2018 Andrea Renda, Senior Research Fellow and Head of Global Governance, Regulation, Innovation and the Digital Economy at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), has responded to this comment.

  17. avatar
    Jose Quintans

    “What leads and drags the world are not machines, but ideas”. — Victor Hugo.

    Universal Basic Income is a trap, most of the recipients would become lazy.

    Better ease the business environment for them to lower the costs of failure, and the people will find what to do to get money.

  18. avatar
    Gregoire Polad

    How is that even debatable? Is water wet? Does fire burn? Is it just me or do we now spend our time discussing whether the obvious is obvious? Would be more interesting to discuss what can be done about it.

  19. avatar
    Jose Quintans

    AI development for consumer electronics are focusing on “enabling a transparent interaction with technologies”, i.e. allowing us to give and receive feedback in a natural human-like manner, thus forgetting about the machines behind the AI interface.

    – When commercial voice recognition software reaches 99% accuracy we all will enjoy better services.

    – When commercial autonomous driving cars reach 99% accuracy the economy will become way more efficient.

    All that’s a big relief, and will free time and brainpower, and resources.

    When the economy becomes more efficient, it always expands, ALWAYS.

    Best regards.

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