AI News, Robots won't just take jobs, they'll create them | TechCrunch artificial intelligence
Robots won't kill the workforce. They'll save the global economy.
The United Nations forecasts that the global population will rise from 7.3 billion to nearly 10 billion by 2050, a big number that often prompts warnings about overpopulation.
Still others inspire a chorus of neo-Luddites, who fear that the “rise of the robots” is rapidly making human workers obsolete, a threat all the more alarming if the human population is exploding.
At the same time, owing to rapid advances in health care and medicine, people are living longer , and most of the coming global population increase will be among the retirement crowd.
One simple way to estimate how fast an economy can grow is by adding working-age population growth and productivity growth: If the number of workers and output per worker are both increasing by 1 percent a year, then economic output should rise by roughly 2 percent.
In the United States, productivity growth has fallen by almost half from its postwar average, but growth in the labor force has slid even faster, dropping by two-thirds to an average pace of 0.5 percent, according to calculations performed for my book.
Studies by Evercore ISI, a research firm, show that the elderly share of the population is rising more than twice as fast as it did in the United States and more than four times faster than in France at similar stages of development.
If older generations created tools for use by humans, such as sewing machines, the new forms of automation are imbued with artificial intelligence, capable of “machine learning” and of rapidly replacing humans in a broad swath of jobs, from manufacturing to services — even jobs that involve writing about robots.
If automation was displacing human workers as fast as implied in recent books like Martin Ford’s “The Rise of the Robots,” then we should be seeing a negative impact on jobs already.
In the Group of Seven, the world’s top industrial countries, unemployment has fallen faster than expected in the face of weak economic growth, and faster than in any comparable period since at least the 1970s.
In the postwar era, countries like China escaped poverty by moving a rising young population off the farm and into more productive jobs in factories.
Starting in the 1980s, led by Singapore, nations from Chile to Australia have offered baby bonuses for women to have more children, but many have found that these bonuses are ineffective in the face of stronger cultural forces, including the desire of many women to pursue a career before having children.
Others have tried with some success to boost the workforce directly by raising the retirement age, offering women incentives to join or return to the labor force after having kids, and opening doors to immigrant workers.
The simple math, however, shows that particularly in rapidly aging, conservative societies such as Japan and Germany, none of these groups has the potential to make up for coming declines in the working-age population.
Shape Created with Sketch. The robots are coming – but will they really take all our jobs?
Last week, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the Autumn Budget a £500m package of investment into tech initiatives, including the development of artificial intelligence.
Which must have had the Channel 4 executives ordering trebles all round, because with perfect timing they’ve designated this week the “Rise of the Robots season”, with a schedule that includes documentaries on the take-off of artificial intelligences (AIs) as consulting doctors, a David Tennant-narrated piece on the challenge of making robots as human as possible, and the one that’s had the tabloids hot under the collar, today'sThe Sex Robots Are Coming –which needs little further explanation.
John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, told the BBC that “more manual, routine jobs” which “can effectively be programmed” were the most at risk, adding, that “jobs where you’ve got more of a human touch, like health and education” would be less affected.
Channel 4’s documentary The Robot Will See You Now posits a near-future where robodocs are the norm, and according to CMRubinWorld, an organisation set up to prepare young people for a rapidly-changing world, one of the biggest changes will be in the classroom.
It’s about what parts of current roles will be automated and what won’t,” says Barber, noting that while we will still need the human touch in jobs such as doctors and lawyers, “machines will often be more accurate” in terms of diagnosis and determination.
In terms of changes for global education, Barber says that “the combination of great teachers and sophisticated AI could be transformative”, but it is not a choice between teachers and AI, adding: “Fewer, more sophisticated teachers will combine with machines that relieve them of drudgery and provide a powerful evidence base for their teaching.” So, no robot sir in mortarboard at the front of the class, but perhaps fewer actual teachers – though ones with a stronger grasp of how to deploy AIs in the classroom.
Could we perhaps glimpse the second-order effects of artificial intelligence by understanding how electricity shocked the world?” Schibsted has just released its annual Future Report, and robots and AI loom very, very large indeed.
“No wonder that as I talk to business leaders in industries like retail, health diagnostics, professional services and finance, their number one priority is artificial intelligence.” Increased leisure time sounds like something we can all get behind, and those sci-fi pulps from the 1930s and 1940s featuring illustrations of humans enjoying themselves while robots do all the drudgery might be getting closer.
“And one only need to look at the dominance of Amazon in retail, and Google and Facebook in advertising, to see the risks of market dominance driven by data monopolies.” Robots and AI might right now still seem the preserve of blockbuster movies and documentaries about sex-bots, but it’s no doubt the world is changing.
Automation will not destroy all jobs
It is commonly believed that robotization inevitably will destroy the labor market.
The way they see it, robotization in the manufacturing and service sectors will allow companies to lay off people and destroy jobs en masse.
New manufacturers, engineers, maintenance experts and professionals, equipped with novel skills will join the labor force in great numbers, finding jobs in new companies.
As I reviewed the literature on how the labor market may be affected by automation and robotization, I came across an intriguing suggestion by the journalist Ben Tarnoff in The Guardian, “Robots won’t just take our jobs — they’ll make the rich even richer.” Despite the headline, the author is not downbeat about the future.
He identifies solutions for mitigating the downsides of robotization, while allowing that new technologies, which may foster substantial societal growth, will also entail threats unless politicians and economists adopt adequate regulations.
Critics of today’s technologies forget that no change — especially the kind of change that affects entire job markets — can be undertaken without putting in place proper regulatory and legislative mechanisms.
As technologies are perfected, and human labor accounts for an ever-lower share of the cost of capital creation, companies earn more money, but the benefits do not trickle down to the worker.
Rising profits resulting from greater efficiencies are pocketed by investors and business owners without corresponding increases in wages, training, or employee growth opportunities.
This process leads to the wealthy isolating themselves in luxurious guarded enclaves, leaving the jobless members of the lower and middle classes to radical resorts, including violent ones.
According to some studies, there is a 50% chance that the devices and machines that rely on artificial intelligence will be able to perform allhuman jobs within the next 45 years, and that every job will be automated within 120 years.
Oxford University Professor Michael Osbourne, who specializes in machine learning, believes that machines will replace roughly 47% of our jobs in the next two decades, leaving half the population with nothing to do.
Source: McKinsey Global Institute Of course, discussing the labor market demands a broader perspective to account for the nature of the work performed, worker education, and other factors.
For example, if I lose some documents in a robot-run hotel in the middle of nowhere, the first interaction I am going to have will probably be with a chatbot or a physical robot behind the front desk.
The new laws (which may take effect this year), are intended to create rules to protect people harmed by devices that rely exclusively on algorithms.
What is certain, however, is that AI will create opportunities for millions of people, liberating them from rote work, motivating them to acquire new knowledge, inspiring them to take on new intellectual challenges and enabling them to learn new things.
- On 26. februar 2021
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