Elon Musk has been warning the world against what could possibly go wrong with giving AI too much power. It is a threat of technological unemployment; the takeover of human jobs by automation. Artificial Intelligence is finding its way into an ever-increasing number of domains, and unprecedented disruption of the employment landscape. Machine learning algorithms are the most prominent constituents of modern AI which is either promising or delivering better performance than human professionals.
The AI revolution is coming at a fast pace, and it is as good a time as any to start preparing our educational and economic infrastructure for a future in which humans will become less and less involved in performing certain types of tasks.
This is not the entire picture, though. Every industrial revolution is as much about the displacement and adjustment of the workforce as it is about its replacement, and this newest cycle is no exception. But the propagation of artificial intelligence will also provide new opportunities to put human creativity and innovation to effective use.
"Technology has never been a net destroyer of jobs," says Stuart Frankel, CEO of Narrative Science. "Look at almost every technology job that exists in any enterprise today. None of those jobs existed twenty years ago, and most of them probably didn't even exist ten years ago."
In fact, for the moment, rather than being a total takeover of human jobs by robots, the problem is that there are a lot of vacant job posts and not enough skilled people to fill them. With the rise of data-driven business, the demand for tech talent is increasing across the board.
For instance, in 2016, cyber-economy researcher Cybersecurity Ventures reported that the cybersecurity unemployment rate was at zero—and that in fact, there's a shortage of more than one million experts across the world. Similar tech-employment areas, such as software development and data science, aren't faring any better and are dealing with their own talent gap. The need for more experts in tech jobs will continue to grow as artificial intelligence finds its way into even more domains.
Many of the people who are losing their jobs to AI do not have the skills and knowledge to enter tech jobs, and training them requires considerable time. Fortunately, in this respect, artificial intelligence can help solve a problem that might be largely its own making. AI is already promising to revolutionize education in many ways, including personalizing and optimizing the learning experience. This means it'll take less time to learn new skills.
Where AI can't soften the learning curve, it'll be able to break down the complexity of tasks and make them simpler, enabling more people to enter jobs that once required years of education and training. As it takes on increasingly complicated tasks, artificial intelligence faces social, ethical, and political challenges. Engineers are dealing with totally new problems, such as creating unbiased AI algorithms. Until the day robots take all the jobs, there's still plenty for humans to do. But we need to embrace change and prepare for it.
Let us know what you think about AI and job opportunities that might be given to robots instead of humans: