Artificial Intelligence is now at its highest developed point ever. New technologies arise almost every week improving the ones that already exists or even showing up brand new techniques. It is a revolution -or it will be- that would change the way we produce goods and the way these are distributed. The age of the robots has begun. This is particularly challenging for millennials and the younger generations, who will have to cope with a future technological world that challenge their work expectations and usual ways of doing and managing a business.
Recent years have seen the emergence of machines that can diagnose cancers as accurately as pathologists, detect fraudulent financial transactions in a matter of milliseconds, produce coherent news stories for media outlets, shuttle goods and pallets within complex distribution warehouses, trade stocks and shares in financial markets, and perform case research for the legal industry.
This is an incredible advantage in order to help and improve people’s life all around the world, or it would be. But what really is uncertain is the implementation these new robotics tech going to be and how is it going to affect workers and the industry.
Are low-skilled jobs at risk of being wiped out?
A recent report from the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, RSA, focused on the possibilities and hazards that AI and robotics could bring to our lives.
To start with, the RSA mentioned that It is four years now since the University of Oxford published its landmark study predicting 35 percent of UK jobs could be made obsolete by new technology. But since then, anxiety about automation has only become more acute.
The landmark study put its attention in the low-skilled workers as they were most vulnerable to be swapped by new robotics. Although new automation could, indeed, loss jobs in factories and in financial firms due to new algorithms and robotics, the implementation in the mid-term shows some hope for a light transition.
And the RSA report adds some reason to not enter in panic mode.
That is so because Despite impressive advances in the capability of machines, there are still many things they cannot do.
Also, in most cases, AI and robotics will automate individual tasks rather than whole jobs. And because jobs usually encompass a range of functions, the automation of one task means workers will be able to pivot into new roles.
AI and robotics will not just substitute for workers. They will also complement them and create new tasks not previously done by humans. Examples include robotic systems used by overburdened care workers to help lift patients.
Besides, new jobs will emerge. Some of the fastest growing occupations in the UK are in the technology industry. The number of programmers has grown by 40 percent since 2011, while the ranks of IT directors have doubled over the same period. Tech jobs alone are unlikely to replace those lost to machines.
Facing the inevitable Robotic future
But, however is said, UK’s rate of automation in its factories is slower than in other richer countries, and, as they do so, they lose the grip in manufacturing and being competitive in international retail markets. Which will become a problem for the whole UK economy in the near future.
That’s why a balance between robotic implementation and job losses is a big issue that has to be tackled in a meanings of ways.
The RSA sees it like a challenge, then, to accelerate the adoption of AI and robotics but in a way that delivers automation on our own terms.
“Our existing policy framework appears ill-prepared for this task. Our tax system leans too heavily on labour over capital, our welfare structure lacks a sufficient safety net to protect those who lose out to machines, our educational institutions do not do enough to support lifelong learning that would aid career shifts, our inflated housing market prevents people from moving in search of better work, and our investment communities seldom distinguish between supporting benign and malign technologies.”
An alternative path exists as in the RSA approaches a few of ideas that could be bring together automation and social well-being. Among these ideas are:
Develop an ethical framework to guide the behaviour of AI and robotics engineers.
Encourage VCs and non-profits to invest in benevolent technology that enriches the worker experience.
Establish a Centre for AI and Robotics that encourages greater take-up of innovations among industry.
Create personal training accounts that aid lifelong learning and help workers as they jump from job to job.
Shift the burden of taxation away from labour and towards capital.
Draft a blueprint for a UK sovereign wealth fund that would give every citizen a ‘technological inheritance’.
Therefore, automation and new AI technologies are not the foe that has to be eliminated but they have to be seen as new opportunities. Governments and Companies have the duty to set an organized implementation that allows workers and the economy itself to be prepared for such a massive change.
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