If science fiction movies like Ex Machina, I, Robot, and the indelible Terminator have taught us anything it is that many of us consciously fear our inevitable future with Artificial Intelligence. And there is some value to that fear in terms of how artificial intelligence (AI) will alter jobs and the economy.
Before sentient humanoid robots took over everyday tasks in I, Robot, more primitive technology had already been changing the jobs market. Most people alive today have probably never met a bowling pin setter or an elevator operator let alone know that those were jobs one could have, but for a time in our history, these were stable jobs one could possess before they were outmoded by automation. Your alarm clock replaced the knocker-upper, your cell phone replaced the switch board operator, etc. In more recent years factory workers have been struggling to keep up with full-time work as company CEOs begin to replace their labor with robots.
But the introduction of new tech to the workforce is not necessarily a death sentence to workers. There are some jobs that simply cannot be replaced by technology, not even by AI, as they require skill sets only a human being can possess such as judgement and social skills. You likely won’t be going to a robot psychiatrist anytime soon. Technology has also made work more efficient, saving human beings time and energy to be more creative and productive in other areas of work and life, which has led to the creation of entirely new jobs. One of the benefits of the modern telephone technology is that we can receive calls instantly, we don’t have to wait around for an operator to connect us. This saved us time and money and we eventually developed the phone so much that it can now come with us anywhere we go, and we can even connect to the Internet on our phones allowing us to interact with anyone on planet earth with the click of a button. Internet technology and mobile technology has introduced us to the digital marketplace, which has led to the creation of hundreds of new types of jobs. Individuals can now specialize in social media management or become a digital content strategist. Many businesses who have switched to automation still require human beings to make sure the quality of the product produced by the machine is up to par. Machines can still break down and need humans to fix them.
So, what does AI mean for our future job force? AI will likely replace more menial labor, which could hurt many of us that rely on these jobs to survive. But AI will also lead to innovation that will allow us to create entirely new modes of work, free up our time, and allow us to work on the things we are passionate about. In the technological age one of our primary concerns should be to make sure that humanity is not made obsolete by machines, but new technology does not have to be scary, as there is a lot about the world that has changed for the better because of it.