Preparing Ourselves for Artificial Intelligence

Are we ready for AI?

The First Industrial revolution introduced in mechanization throughout Europe, and later spreading it to other parts of he world. Almost a century later, the discovery and development of new sources of energy bought in the Second Industrial revolution, which also synthesized new methods of communication like telephone and telegraph. The Third wave of revolution came barreling in after another 100 years later, with another untapped source of energy- the Nuclear energy. Also known as Digital revolution, this era increased the use of telecommunications and electronics, followed by Programmable Logic Controllers (1968) and Robots (1954). In continuation of its predecessor, the Fourth Industrial revolution or more commonly known as Industry 4.0, has disrupted various technologies, changing the way traditional processes operate. Examples include Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Blockchain and many other interruptions that have evolved the ways of our society.

Time line of artificial intelligence (Source: http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2017/history-artificial-intelligence/)

Several historical accounts support how Artificial Intelligence, or AI, have brimmed from a mere thought to a massive reality. Also called machine intelligence, AI is can be described as any work that can be done by a machine, in a manner similar to humans. Today, we are surrounded by AI, from virtual assistants in our phones to smart homes, this technology has become ubiquitous in every domain of life. There is no sector where automation has not marked its presence; healthcare, manufacturing, education, defense, agriculture and IT, to name a few. AI has proven is potential by substituting humans in areas where the concept was once deemed as theoretical. This has led debates that resonate
back and forth between fear of losing jobs and reassurance that little will be affected in terms of overall employment.

After thorough studies, researchers have analyzed and presented three potential scenarios that can take place in regards to the impact of automation on net jobs:

  1. Artificial intelligence creates new jobs but not enough for re-allocation of displaced workforce, and the
    overall impact on is negative.
  2. Artificial intelligence creates equal number of jobs that are automated and the total impact remains neutral.
  3. Artificial intelligence creates more jobs as compared to those that are automated and yields a positive impact.

According to a report by Mckinsey Global Institute (2017), 9% of the Indian markets automated by 2030, job effects will be positive, with enough jobs being created to balance out the displacement of jobs by technological advancements, along with a significant number of new jobs created to cope with changing scenario. A closer look at the report point towards the fact that most of the jobs at the risk of complete automation are those which consist of manual or monotonous tasks, like that of desk jobs, bookkeepers, proofreaders etc, thus rendering them obsolete. Apart from job loss, another concept linked closely to AI is that of job polarization, which has favored higher-educated workers,
while removing middle-income class. This has resulted in a potential widening of inequality in the current scenario.

Percentage of Jobs susceptible to automation by 2030. (Source: PWC Analysis, 2018)

AI has managed to challenge the entire job spectrum across the globe. Employees and workers have to compete directly against the efficiency and speed of a machine. With multiple cognitive tasks in early and advance stages of automation, human projections have plummeted in comparison to technological advancements. Yet, looking at the other side of the coin, artificial intelligence has eased out the human lives and made it more safe and secure. Take a look at the current pandemic, where consistent use of this disruptive technology has not only led to competent solutions for monitoring and diagnosis of the disease, but also slowed down its spread. Healthcare industry has benefited the most from AI, resulting in increased life expectancy. In other fields like that of agriculture, AI has has empowered the farmers to produce greater harvest by continuous monitoring of soil and crops. Other service domains like manufacturing, defense and IT have also witnessed a surge in productivity and efficiency with implementation of AI in their daily tasks.

Coming to conclusion, like any other technological product, artificial intelligence too is a boon and a bane for the society. Where at one side, it is making human lives easy, at the other it is threatening the existence of that very life by endangering their means of livelihood. Need of the hour is to recognize “who” and “how” factor of the impact, and make necessary provisions, like free of cost training programs for the lower income group, to make every person adaptable to the change. Though complete automation of various jobs will happen over a longer period of time, it is quintessential to prepare ourselves for the future, so that we may not succumb to such a technology.

Learning Never Stops

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