This being the last blog post in a three-part-series on Artificial Intelligence (AI), I just thought it would be appropriate to end with how Artificial Intelligence will affect your current bread and butter: your job. It is not a question of if, but a question of when, AI will likely replace humans on the job. The real question is how soon this will happen.
Artificial Intelligence have made significant progress since the field was formally founded in 1956. Since then, numerous strides have been made in the field, especially in recent times, where AI has infiltrated many aspects of our lives, from the Web experiences, to travel, to finance, and many other areas.
There are three classifications for AI, depending on their capabilities and level of advancement: these being Narrow or Weak AI, General or Strong AI, and Artificial Super Intelligence.
Narrow AI or Weak AI, are a type of Artificial Intelligence focused on one single narrow task. They possess a narrow-range of capabilities. This is the only type of AI in existence today, for now. When we talk about General or Strong AI, we are referring to a type of AI, that is about as capable as a human. Artificial Super Intelligence, is AI that have surpassed humans at absolutely everything. The Artificial Super Intelligence type is achieved when AI are more capable than a human.
Seeing that present AI are only capable of performing singular and narrow tasks and have not yet reached the stage of performing at the level of a human, there is still some time and advancement that AI have to undergo, to fully replace humans. At the same time, it is also important to understand that even at Narrow AI level, Artificial Intelligence is already replacing some roles in the workplace.
Looking at the three classifications of AI, it should be understood that the progression of AI from General To Super Intelligence is inevitable: if at all possible. This being the case, what are some of the limitations that are limiting, or preventing AI from completely replacing humans in the workplace?
Suffice to say that any particular technology does not thrive in a vacuum, and AI advancement is no different. There are many factors constraining AI advancement. Some of the factors include the level of development of the programming languages, software, and tools for AI development, the hardware that will enable AI to operate at such a high level, as well as slow human adoption rates.
AI is akin to software programs, and these need efficient algorithms to operate. Not only that, they also need optimal hardware on which those algorithms will run. Furthermore, AI that operates in the physical world, needs to be supported by advances in areas such as robotics.
With these constraints and limitations, AI will take a considerable amount of time to replace most jobs in the workplace. As technologies converge more, and humanity embraces and adopts AI, more jobs will be lost to the machines.
As humans gradually embrace and adopt AI systems, not all jobs will be affected the same way. Some jobs are being completely replaced already, and others are being partially replaced, while others may never be replaced.
For instance AI have already found applications in the agricultural fields, such as in the robot developed by Dr Martin Stoelen, a lecturer in robotics at Plymouth University. This autonomous machine is expected to pick more than 25,000 raspberries a day, outpacing human workers by a huge margin.
Not only will robots replace workers, they will also become bosses to humans. When a customer service representative at the call centre of the insurance giant MetLife talks to a customer over the phone, they are monitored by an AI displayed in a little blue box at the bottom right area of their screen, which tells them how they are doing.
AI are making diagnoses better than human doctors in some cases. To further emphasise the point, According to a study conducted by researchers from Imperial College London and Google Health, an AI program has been developed that can identify breast cancer from routine scans, with greater accuracy than its human counterparts.
If AI can perform all these feats, then which job is safe? The takeaway however, in all these examples, is that the AI in each case is performing a singular task really well, but cannot for example, prepare you a meal after physically going grocery shopping for the ingredients.
Generally, the hardest jobs for machines to perform, are those that take years of training for humans to excel at. These often involve intuitive decision making, complex physical environments, or abstract thinking: all things computers struggle with. The further away your job description is from the preceding statement, the more likely it is that your job will be the first to go.
At the time of writing, where AI is still at the level of Narrow AI, you have little worry about your job being taken away any time soon, but have no doubt, it will most likely eventually go. But what timeline are we looking at? Will it happen in 5, 15, or 200 years from now?
This is a good question because, any answer given, regardless of who is giving the answer, is just mere speculation, even if it can be backed up with expertise in the field. What makes things more complicated in the effort of predicting when a given job will be replaced by AI, is that there are too many opinions.
No one can say for certain whether AI Will take your job in 5, 15 or 200 years, but it is important to watch out for trends, so that you can be prepared. But how do you prepare for such disruptive change? My best answer is by reading up on the subject of AI, and educating yourself to be better prepared when the inevitable happens.
One expert predicts that 40 percent of the world’s jobs will be lost to automation in the next 15 years, whilst at the same time some researchers predict there is a 50% chance that machines will be capable of taking over all human jobs in 120 years.
Regardless of whom you talk to about automation and job replacement by AI, and considering the stage we are at in the categories of AI advancement, one thing is clear: You can be rest assured that there is a good chance that Artificial Intelligence is unlikely to take your job any time soon.
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