In­tel­li­gent ro­bots threaten jobs

The Pak Banker - - BUSINESS -

Ad­vances in ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) will soon lead to ro­bots that are ca­pa­ble of nearly ev­ery­thing hu­mans do, threat­en­ing tens of mil­lions of jobs in the com­ing 30 years, ex­perts warned on Satur­day.

an do, what will hu­mans do?" he asked at a panel dis­cus­sion on ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence at the an­nual meet­ing of the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Sci­ence.

Vardi said there will al­ways be some need for hu­man work in the fu­ture, but ro­bot re­place­ments could dras­ti­cally change the land­scape, with no pro­fes­sion safe, and men and women equally af­fected. "Can the global econ­omy adapt to greater than 50 per cent un­em­ploy­ment?" he asked.

Au­to­ma­tion and robo­ti­sa­tion have al­ready rev­o­lu­tionised the in­dus­trial sec­tor over the last 40 years, rais­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity but cut­ting down on em­ploy­ment. Job cre­ation in man­u­fac­tur­ing reached its peak in the United States in 1980 and has been on the de­cline ever since, ac­com­pa­nied by stag­nat­ing wages in the middle class, said Vardi.

To­day, there are more than 200,000 in­dus­trial ro­bots in the coun­try and their num­ber con­tin­ues to rise. To­day, re­search is fo­cused on the rea­son­ing abil­i­ties of ma­chines, and progress in this realm over the past 20 years has been spec­tac­u­lar, said Vardi. "There is ev­ery rea­son to be­lieve the progress in the next 25 years will be equally dra­matic," he said. By his cal­cu­la­tion, 10 per cent of jobs re­lated to driv­ing in the United States could dis­ap­pear due to the rise of driver­less cars in the com­ing 25 years.

Ac­cord­ing to Bart Sel­man, pro­fes­sor of com­puter sci­ence at Cor­nell Univer­sity, "in the next two or three years, semi­au­tonomous or au­ton­o­mous sys­tems will march into our so­ci­ety." He listed self-driv­ing cars and trucks, au­ton­o­mous drones for sur­veil­lance and fully au­to­matic trad­ing sys­tems, along with house ro­bots and other kinds of "in­tel­li­gence as­sis­tance" which make de­ci­sions on be­half of hu­mans.

"We will be in sort of sym­bio­sis with those ma­chines and we will start to trust them and work with them," he pre­dicted. "This is the con­cern be­cause we don't know the rate of growth of ma­chine in­tel­li­gence, how clever those ma­chines will be­come." Sel­man said in­vest­ment in ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence in the United States was by far the high­est ever in 2015, since the birth of the in­dus­try some 50 years ago.

Busi­ness gi­ants like Google, Face­book, Mi­crosoft and Tesla are at the head of the pack. The Pen­tagon has re­quested $ 19 bil­lion for de­vel­op­ing in­tel­li­gent weapons sys­tems. What is con­cern­ing about th­ese new tech­nolo­gies is their abil­ity to an­a­lyse data and ex­e­cute com­plex tasks. This raises con­cerns about whether hu­mans might one day lose con­trol of the ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence they once built, said Sel­man.

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