Artificial intelligence- How would it affect jobs in the future?

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence or AI refers to any program that can do basic tasks without being programmed individually to do so. It can receive inputs, make predictions and perform pre-planned calculations and produce results according to that. Currently AI’s are not capable of programming themselves and that’s why they are known as narrow AI. Narrow AI software have specific specialty and they can only perform tasks that fall under that specialty, i.e. it can not handle any other type of task provided to it. Examples of narrow AI are voice/ image recognition systems, self driving cars software’s, big data management systems, etc.

AI which are able to learn and programme themselves are known as general AI. They are currently inexistent and many believe people that programming such program is not practically possible. They would be able to perform all sorts of tasks. Examples would be Jarvis, Skynet (from Iron Man, and Terminator respectively). As the probability of general AI being coded is minute and it reaching South Asia within at-least 10 years of it being coded is even smaller, we would look at the capabilities of one the most powerful commercially available narrow AI software – Watson, which is made by IBM.

What does Watson do and what are its capabilities?

Watson is basically a AI that is designed to “learn more from less data.” It can perform massive readings and help in finding what is needed incredibly fast, message customers based on the data/ information available to it, monitor systems/ computers/ servers of the company, help identify important factors into consideration and detect liabilities to help one make financial decisions, and help employees get all the information they need immediately. For this it uses 163 trillion GB (163 ZB) of big data and all the information on the net (e-books, online forums, e-encyclopaedias, etc.). Basically what it does is to concise all the data available to it (which is an unfathomable quantity for human perception) and process it and present exactly what is required by the user at some incredibly fast speeds, thus increasing the overall productivity of the company.

How can it affect job market?

What AI basically does is to make predictions and present information to the individual using it. It helps in judgement and knowledge growth but it can not perform judgements and make choices. Another limitation of AI is that it cannot perform research and development. It may be able to identify problems but it cannot find solutions for them. Most available AI cannot perform as many tasks as Watson can. They just perform very basic tasks that require heavy labour that almost any human being can do, i.e. repetitive tasks. Examples of such tasks are driving, identifying and discarding rotten potatoes in chip factories, doing pre-programmed tasks based on various inputs, etc. The advent of AI would most probably only take away jobs that require basic skills, and are labour and time intensive but yield no productive results. Therefore, all the non productive jobs in the economy would be taken away by AI in the long run.

As businesses would become more productive because of AI, more businesses would start coming up because of the increased profitability thus substituting some lost jobs. AI may even open opportunities for more types of jobs in the future. Thus for maintaining job-security in the long run individuals should focus on problem solving, decision making, high level non repetitive skills, creativity and emotional awareness.

The article has been contributed by Hrithik MehtaB.A. Development Economics, Royal Thimphu College

Hrithik Mehta
Hrithik Mehta

Hrithik Mehta is a student of B.A in Development Economics at Royal Thimphu College. He is in the presidents list of the college for topping his batch. He was a science student at class 12 which he completed from Yangchenphug H.S.S. He has always been among the top rankers. He is an Indian living in Bhutan since his birth. He was also a runner up at the Startup Weekend Technology Edition held in April of 2017 for creating a proposal for a mobile taxi booking application. He is also certified by ICDL in MS. Word and Excel processing. He is selected by RTC under Wheaton student exchange program. His interest ranges from as diverse fields as watching cartoons to designing websites, graphic designing, data analysis, playing basketball, and reading good books/ articles. He keeps himself abreast with world politics.

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