What is AI and How Will it Affect Future Jobs?
"Success in creating effective AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation. Or the worst..."
Artificial Intelligence, a phenomenon coined by the ‘father of AI’ John McCarthy, has captured the imagination of science fiction enthusiasts, with films such as ‘2001: a space odyssey’ and ‘Ex Machina’ coming to mind as blockbusters that shot the concept into a pop culture status. However, now it would seem that AI technology is becoming integrated into our society at exponential rates, with leading technology companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon publicly shifting their focus towards AI research.
Despite impressive advancements being made in the field, such as self-driving cars, which are expected to be on our roads by 2020, there has been a distinctly neo-Luddite movement against the progression of Artificial Intelligence. This is a protest primarily propelled by the impact that AI is expected to have on future jobs, with a study by Forrester predicting that Artificial Intelligence will have ‘eliminated a net 6% of jobs by 2021’.
But what exactly is Artificial Intelligence? Four different types have been identified.
Types of Artificial Intelligence
Type 1 – Reactive Machine
Intelligent machines that are purely reactive, meaning they do not rely on past experiences to make their decisions. Examples include Googles AlphaGo, which relies on neural networks to evaluate the development of the game. What sets Reactive machines apart from more common programs such as 'Siri', which uses speech recognition to identify an appropriate pre-made response for the identified question, is that reactive machines do not have pre-made answers. Their decisions are not predetermined; instead, they are made spontaneously to react to the situation at hand.
Type 2 – Limited Memory
Limited memory Artificial Intelligence, relies on its past experiences to make an evaluation of its current situation, then produces a calculated decision derived from the recent events and its original programming. Examples include driverless cars which monitor their surroundings and add any significant or unique observations to its preprogrammed representation of things like traffic lights and curves in the road.
Type 3 – Theory of Mind
This is the level in which the intelligence of the AI will go beyond collecting data or reacting due to algorithms and neural networks. To be a type 3 Artificial intelligence, the AI must gain an understanding of how its actions affect the emotions and actions of those around it. This means that the AI will also have some sort of consciousness (though this does depend on what one defines as a conscious).
Type 4 – Self Awareness
The final stage of AI, is when the intelligence realises that not only do others have emotions and actions that can be affected but that the same thing goes for itself as well. Self-awareness is the stage in which machine intelligence will likely be impossible to tell apart from human knowledge, if not only for its superiority in various areas.
How Artificial Intelligence is currently affecting work places and jobs
As of now, a computer system called Machine Learning, which uses statistical techniques, and machine learning algorithms to allow computers to 'learn' from data, is being used commonly in workplaces (mainly in the field of computer science). New technology being fore-fronted by Andrew Ng a Chinese computer scientist, named 'deep learning' (a subfield of Machine learning), in which machines shift through insanely big data sets to learn new behaviours. However, Machine Learning and deep learning have so far only been utilised for specific functions, and usually remain within the field of computer science to be used for tasks such as natural language processing in which machines analyse and synthesise human speech and language.
Artificial Intelligence and its Effect on Jobs
The primary fear of the those who oppose Artificial Intelligence is that instead of the current use of AI as a tool to assist people and achieve unparalleled efficiency, AI will replace people. Some do call this sci-fi nonsense, but the fear is valid. Just recently Elon Musk's OpenAI robots beat amateur DOTA2 players at their own game. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates congratulated this as a "huge milestone in advancing AI", and while this is true, AI has been going up against humans since 1996.
This was when the famous Deep Blue vs Garry Kasparov chess match took place. Deep Blue, an IBM supercomputer played 6 games against Garry Kasparov, and lost to the world chess champion 2-4, though did beat Kasparov the very next year 3 1/2 to 2 1/2 after undergoing many improvements.
A survey of over 350 AI experts was conducted in 2018 about what we can expect of AI's capabilities in the upcoming years. They predicted the following
What Jobs Are the Most At Risk From AI?
A recent study on the effects of computers on the future of jobs has come up with some scary statistics. In the next 20 years, the likelihood of the following jobs being replaced by technology is very high, with all showing an almost 100% chance of disappearing altogether.
Accountants & Auditors
Real Estate Agents
The jobs least likely jobs to be automated within the next 20 years are: