When Will the Robots Replace Us?

artificial intelligence

This post originally appeared on the Blacklight, our new newsletter for professionals. 

Remember in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, when Tony Stark creates Ultron to help humans establish world peace? And then Ultron decides that the best way to do that is to exterminate mankind completely? Okay, so fears about artificial intelligence (AI) taking over the world haven’t quite reached that level. (Unless you’re Elon Musk).

But, a lot of people really do fear that AI will take all our jobs. Before you know it, we’ll have no way to earn a living, and no sense of self. An in-depth report from NBC News warns that we must rethink how we look at AI. The purpose is not only to make our jobs more efficient.

Artificial intelligence will also replace our minds.

This, they say, could affect our social well-being and lead to a growing unemployment rate. Jobs in the food and restaurant industries, investment, banking, shipping, and legal fields are all at risk. Even careers in higher education face a threat.

Meanwhile, James Surowieki at Wired sees scant proof that the robots will take away all our jobs. He argues that overall, AI has not allowed companies to produce more with fewer people. In fact, he believes productivity gains over the past decade have been low, compared to historical standards.

The robots have already risen

But as outlets such as Mashable, Gizmodo and The Atlantic point out, machines have already replaced many jobs. When was the last time you booked a vacation through a human travel agent? Have you gone into a bank lately to make a deposit with a teller? Don’t we use email a thousand times more often than snail-mailing a letter to someone?

Whether we like it or not, artificial intelligence is here to stay. And yes, robots will take many of our jobs. Often, they already have. So far, we’ve been able to cope. Going forward, we need to stay educated and willing to reinvent ourselves and our careers.


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