How AI Will Change the Concept of Work or Are Robots Coming for Our Jobs?
With the rise of automation, some stress that workers might find themselves in a state of idleness, with nothing to do, while machines handle all the work. So, do we hurl ourselves right into the lion's den? As technology flourishes and Artificial Intelligence persists in evolving, experts and enthusiasts are cooking over the prospects of the potential shock for the workforce and the nature of work.
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The Rise of A.I.
A.I. has accompanied us in various aspects of our lives for the past decade. From voice assistants like Siri and Alexa, which have become household names, to personalized recommendations on streaming platforms and online shopping sites, A.I. has seamlessly woven into our daily routines. Industries such as healthcare, finance, and transportation have already welcomed A.I. to optimize processes, enhance decision-making, and boost efficiency. Autonomous vehicles, intelligent virtual assistants, and predictive analytics are just a few A.I. applications that have transformed our interactions and experiences.
According to projections, the worldwide A.I. market is anticipated to achieve a value of $407 billion by 2027, boasting a compound annual growth rate of 36.2% for 2022-2027.
The recent rise of A.I. happened due to several factors:
The exponential growth in computing power and advancements in hardware have made A.I. handy and feasible for most industries.
The vast amounts of data generated and collected in recent years have fueled the evolution and training of more sophisticated A.I. models.
Breakthroughs in A.I. research, such as deep learning and reinforcement learning, have demonstrated remarkable triumphs in various domains, grabbing public attention and driving the discussion around A.I.'s potential hit on society.
The topic has been highly abuzz since a great splash of the star of the season - generative A.I. It refers to a branch of artificial intelligence that creates new content, such as images, music, or text, by learning patterns and developing new outputs based on that knowledge.
The 2022 year's launch list makes quite an impression:
Imagen (by Google) - Text-to-image tool launched in May, presenting more competent giant models.
Midjourney - Released its DALL-E competitor in open beta in July.
Stability.AI - Unlocked its Stable Diffusion to the public in August.
DALL-E 2 - Became available to the masses in September following the success of OpenAI's text-to-image generator.
ChatGPT (by OpenAI) - Overwhelmed the public, offering a powerful answer engine and GPT-3 chatbot.
According to Statista, the information technology sector is projected to experience a significant uprise in adopting artificial intelligence. In 2022, approximately 47% of I.T. executives anticipated the widespread implementation of A.I. within their companies. The Accenture report predicts that by 2035, companies that effectively utilize A.I. will have the potential to boost their profitability by an average of 38%. Here is the stat from IBM's “Global AI Adoption Index 2022” report, which shows the wide usage of the technology in all directions.
Concept of Work Evolution
The growth of on-demand collaborative platforms like Uber and the gig economy has already altered the landscape of the human workforce from time-based to task-based work. As A.I. continues to advance, the concept of work will further transform with increased automation and the emergence of new forms of value creation that may not require human involvement.
"It is likely that the next generation of platforms will take advantage of automated vehicles to take humans out of the production role, matching, for example, autonomous vehicles with people who need rides. From there, it's easy to envision a system where economic value is often created without humans.", Marina Gorbis, the Institute of the Future director, says in the "Back to Future" publication.
It's easy to get wrapped in the A.I. charms, but let's look into some pros and cons we may face due to AI-work collaboration.
Improved productivity and efficiency.
Thanks to A.I. doing repetitive and mundane tasks have never been so easy. ChatGPT and other tools allow workers to focus on more complex and creative endeavors, leading to higher productivity. According to McKinsey research, the need for advanced cognitive abilities, including creativity, critical thinking, decision-making, and complex information processing, is expected to increase by 19% in the United States and 14% in Europe by 2030.
According to an Accenture report in labor-intensive sectors like wholesale and retail, the integration of A.I. increases workforce productivity, resulting in a nearly 60% profit increase. In capital-intensive industries such as manufacturing, AI-powered machines eliminate faulty equipment and idle resources, leading to consistently rising returns and a significant 39% profit boost by 2035.
Considering these numbers, it's easy to believe that the 7% automation-inspired GDP worldwide growth predicted by Goldman Sacks for the next ten years will be accurate.
Fast and accurate decision-making.
A.I. systems can explore vast amounts of data and provide valuable insights, aiding decision-making processes and improving outcomes. Deep learning wins over human understanding because it can identify complex patterns humans might miss and generalize the knowledge to new situations without explicit instructions. The occurrence of mistakes is primarily attributed to inadequate input or poor datasets.
Empowered by "digital colleagues," the domains that could benefit are:
Adversarial challenges such as fraud detection, financial analysis, and search algorithms
Additionally, prediction tasks related to agriculture, geopolitical events, and bioinformatics.
Moreover, the optimization can extend to areas such as finance, where it aids in finding optimal paths and logistics solutions.
Perfection has yet to be achieved. Some studies criticize the deep learning implementations at their current appearance for the "abundance of parameters," many companies still prefer old statistical approaches for data analyses. But these networks are still on the testbed, with future improvements yet to come.
While some jobs may be displaced, A.I. also creates new roles related to A.I. development, maintenance, and oversight, as well as in industries that emerge alongside. Forrester predicts 8.9 million new jobs in the U.S. by 2025. A.I. tools can change the working environment even more than other tech advances for the last eighty years.
The MIT study outlines three AI-driven job perspectives as "trainers, explainers, and sustainers ." Individuals in these positions will partner with A.I., enhancing machines' tasks to ensure their effectiveness and responsibility.
Though 93% of technical specialists feel uncertain as to the future, the top skills to get rewarded in the foreseeable future are:
Natural Language Processing (NLP)
Though most skills are closer to technical ones, the most valuable trait will be the ability to effectively assess what tasks machines can and cannot perform and determine what tasks they should and should not undertake.
Safety and risk management
A.I. can be deployed in hazardous environments, reducing human exposure to dangerous conditions and improving safety protocols. Robots and automatic systems can perform tasks in complex environments by leveraging A.I. technologies, such as robotic systems and intelligent sensors.
For example, AI-powered robotic systems can be employed to inspect and repair infrastructure in extreme conditions, including underwater pipelines and nuclear power plants. Intelligent sensors integrated with A.I. algorithms can detect and respond to hazardous substances, enabling early warning systems and effective mitigation strategies.
Job replacement and drop in wages.
IBM has already announced its plans to stop hiring roles replaceable by A.I., around 7800 positions. A report by Goldman Sachs says that artificial intelligence may substitute the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs while two-thirds of occupations will undergo some degree of automation.
Many positions and domains can be affected: telemarketing and advertising, bookkeeping, receptionists, couriers, proofreaders, customer support, retail, and research analytics. The Business Insider predicts it will also partially substitute or decrease wages for tech jobs, media professions, legal industry jobs, teaching, finance specialists and traders, and graphic designers. The list is incomplete, as the impact of A.I. and automation on specific job roles can vary depending on various factors.
Such shifts may require individuals to adjust their skills or try new roles. This can lead to short-term disruptions and potential unemployment challenges.
There may also be a divide between those who maintain the winning talents to work with A.I. and those who don't, deepening job polarization unless actions are taken to ensure equal access to A.I. education and training.
A recent McKinsey study discovered that effective reskilling is 20% more cost-effective than a "hiring and firing" strategy, and using the proper implements and technology can assist businesses in accomplishing their workers' reskilling goals. According to the IBM research 39% of companies already plan to invest in reskilling.
Despite the doom and gloom predictions, human judgment and touch are necessary for machines for now. "A.I. will do the analytical thinking, while humans will wrap that analysis in warmth and compassion.", says Kai-Fu Lee in his book "Ai Superpowers."
A.I. raises ethical questions about privacy, bias, and the responsible use of technology. It can show discriminatory behavior when providing results for large datasets if they miss the necessary information or replicate the existing social discrimination in the data.
For example, such an issue rose to prominence in 2019 when a U.S. financial regulator started an investigation into claims Apple's credit card proposed different credit limits for men and women. Steve Wozniak and other public figures twitted this happened to their wives, despite having better credit scores. The algorithm was suspected to be trained on data when women were discriminated which gives ground for such results in the era of "big tech."
A.I. has paved its way to the work processes already. Companies such as Eightfold's Enterprise Talent Intelligence Platform already offer solutions for AI-suggested hiring processes. The promise is to give a 360-degree candidate's evaluation above proxies like degrees and past experiences. Needless to say, ensuring transparency, responsibility, correct data input, and addressing biases in A.I. algorithms is crucial to mitigate potential harmful outcomes.
Every day, we face an increasing challenge of dealing with fake or manipulated content on the internet. With the boom of the tech world, we are now confronted with a new threat: AI-generated fake news articles, podcasts, and realistic deepfake images and videos. These manipulations occur at a scale and speed that was once unimaginable.
People are already tired of being bombarded with ads and click bates. As a result, such a bigger mess can sow doubt, creating even more confusion and distrust in viewers. Social media users have falsely argued that real videos of U.S. President Joe Biden and former U.S. President Donald Trump are fake. So it will become even more challenging for businesses to attract attention and gain public trust.
Let alone the fact that A.I. tools may also make mistakes and must be checked, which is often abandoned. As a result, more disinformation may appear unintendedly.
Lack of data security
Gizmodo reported that Samsung's workers unintentionally shared sensitive information through ChatGPT on three occasions within 20 days. This incident highlights how companies can accidentally put private data at risk, showing that it can happen quite easily.
During March 2023, a security breach resulted in certain users of ChatGPT observing conversation headings in the sidebar that were not intended for them. Very soon, the Italian data regulator required that OpenAI stop all operations for Italian users' data. Though the fixes were made, it questioned the safety of trusting personal and company data to popular A.I. tools. To ensure data privacy, business owners must give their employees explicit instructions on what information can be shared.
These points represent potential challenges and considerations. The impact of A.I. on the concept of work will depend on various aspects, including how it is implemented, regulated, and blended into society. Or how the concentration of A.I. power will be re-divided as A.I. technologies are predominantly developed and controlled by a few major players who will most likely race up to the bottom.
In 2022 Joe Biden published the AI Bill of Rights, defining the main principles, guidelines, and regulations to ensure the ethical and responsible development and use of artificial intelligence technologies. Though it does not put strict rules, it enforces a sectorally specific approach to artificial intelligence regulation.
Technology is as good or bad as its designers, so it will depend on its creators whether the gamble is worth it. Although the accessibility and spread of technology have increased, ensuring its open adoption and addressing potential ethical and societal implications is still necessary. We might build a world of human-machine partnership or one day wake up thinking about what we are for in case our skills are outdated. Institute of Conceptology and Creative Education provides training on developing creativity and problem-solving skills. We believe a creative mindset will keep your skills above those that AI technology will be able to perform.