The following was published on CMSWire.com on Feb. 22, 2017.
The argument against artificial intelligence (AI) is driven by fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of intelligence. According to Stephen Hawkings we do have reason to beware of the consequences of the advancement of artificial intelligence, including the possibility of the end of the human race. The rise of the machines won’t be happening imminently, after all AI is still at its primitive stage. The most realistic fear that has been discussed recently is that AI will take people’s jobs.
The Ugly Reality
Undoubtedly technology is taking people’s jobs in droves. Anytime you self-checkout in the grocery store you might be conveniencing yourself but you’re also doing something that just 15 years ago someone would have been paid to do for you. The trend is also happening in casual type restaurants such as Red Robin where machines are on the table that do everything but bring you the food itself. Airlines use self-serve kiosks to print luggage tags and boarding passes, banks use intelligent automated voices to route calls and do practically everything unless you specifically ask for a representative.
It doesn’t exactly take a forward thinker to envision a time when cars are self-driving. Airline pilots rarely have to actually hand fly a plane, not that their jobs aren’t important, but with the technological advancement of drones, it’s not hard to imagine that commercial planes will one day be pilotless. While Moore’s Law implies that technology doubles every two years, the reality is that humans are notoriously slow at adopting it. We’ve been trained to think of new technology as cost prohibitive and buggy. We let tech savvy pioneers test new things and we wait until the second or third iteration, when the technology is ready, before deciding to adopt it.
The Time Is Now
While AI seems like a futuristic concept, it’s actually something that many people use daily, although 63 percent of users don’t realize they’re using it. Google is a great example of machine learning that many people use every day and it truly does make life easier. Marketers use artificial intelligence for a variety of functions, not the least of which include personalization. The reason that Netflix or Amazon are able to give you personalized suggestions is because the technology that runs their software utilizes AI.
While the fear of job loss is understandable, it should be recognized that because of artificial intelligence many people are currently doing jobs that weren’t available even just a few years back. Let’s circle back to marketers for example. The technological know-how is now a full-time job, so alongside designers and copywriters is a new breed of marketer that is trained to purposefully promote content to a uniquely tailored audience.
Yet, still, when you Google “which new jobs will AI produce” you will only get a list of articles saying that AI is going to eliminate jobs. Of course, fear typically drives more clicks than positivity, so it’s not surprising that more articles focus on the negative aspects of AI than the good that many people proclaim will come from it.
We’re currently in a situation where we have an administration that has a focus on saving American jobs. To date, the jobs that are focused are jobs that will be taken over by intelligent machines in the not-to-distant future. Retaining jobs is important, but with a strategy around educating people on the coming technology, long-term retention of jobs would be a lot more realistic. Manufacturing is becoming less about screwing parts together and more about robotic maintenance and foresight. No leader should want to stop this advancement, but a leader should recognize the future and see to a long-term solution rather than a short-term one.
The previous administration did study the impact of AI on our economy. The White House study, Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and the Economy doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that AI will take people’s jobs, as many as 47 percent in the next decade. It also goes on to emphasize that these jobs will be replaced with others, and that a focus on education and investments in the industry are vital.
"AI informed intelligence software will always learn from current scenarios. It is only as good as the programmers," according to Kitty Parr, founder and CEO of Social Media Compliance (SMC), in ComputerWeekly.com. If that’s the case, certainly programmers have a bright future.
Already Producing Jobs
Even software companies that are not at the scale of Google or Amazon are not only utilizing AI in their products but also creating jobs at the same time. censhare has been running a semantic network, a fancy term for AI, since 2001. Besides the jobs at censhare that AI produces, their customer base needs people who can run the software as well.
You can extract from the above paragraph that there are many companies on the forefront of this new technology and they all need developers, marketers, sales, support, leadership and everyone else involved in running a company. Intelligent machines aren’t going to start running companies, people will continue making the glue that holds corporations together.
Artificial intelligence is not going away. We have a choice whether to embrace it or fear it. People who embrace it from the start will inevitably end up ahead, while those who choose to fear or even ignore it will be left playing catchup. The latter is who will end up losing jobs while the former will continue doing what they love, just maybe in a slightly different way.