It’s Your Job – Or Is It AI’s?
Most of the people have already heard at least something about how AI has become an indispensable tool in more than one area of life and how the employment market is rapidly trying to accommodate the changes brought about by the power and flexibility of AI. (If you want to know more about how AI interacts and is expected to revolutionize certain fields, you can read our previous blog posts – we’ve covered everything from customer service to cybersecurity, from engineering and planning to economy, from healthcare to pharmacy and law). Even so, there are many people (usually coming from one of several professions) who are still pretty convinced that they can’t be replaced by any artificial device, no matter how smart one.
But, let’s take off the pink glasses and put on the scientific ones – and find out how right are they. If you believe that your job is too advanced and “humanlike” to be threatened by AI – think twice. And yes – this article is for you especially.
Under the Risk of Unemployment
There’s no point in going into detail insofar some occupations are concerned. Predictably, the most endangered professions are definitely those which presuppose or include a large amount of manual labour: agricultural workers, drivers, clerks and couriers, operators of various equipment, sales workers and street vendors, textile jobs, etc. The more generic and repetitive the tasks you do daily are, the higher the probability that each and every one of them can be automatized. (BBC Technology has done a great job automating the findings of an influential study, “The Future of Employment”, into a simple “automation risk” search box: you can easily find out whether your profession is threatened by AI here; in fact, we encourage you to do so.)
That being said, there are certain jobs you would not expect to appear on any automation-risk list. But, let’s have a look at few of them.
1) Healthcare Workers
As far as most people are concerned, doctors and surgeons are there to stay: how can an AI program outperform a human when it comes to such delicate things such as your health?
Well, to some extent, it’s true that humans are still much better than robots at diagnosing diseases and performing operations. But, it’s also wrong, if you take time into consideration. At the rate of the current development, robots and other AI devices won’t develop general AI or emotional intelligence in the next two decades, and those two are certainly prerequisites. However, in half a century, replacing doctors with robots is not only possible, but almost expected.
In fact, there’s a bunch of smart devices already available at the market, each of them capable of tracking the health conditions of a human organism. Doctors already use them to make some estimations faster. The new thing is that their logs can now be analysed by AI-powered software fed with relevant information about the relationships between certain syndromes and diseases. The software can subsequently predict potential ailments and disorders. Twenty years ago, this scenario might have sounded like a futuristic movie. But, today, it’s already our reality. Ajan Reginald, CEO of Celixir, a company using AI technologies to invent new medicines, Ajan Reginald, says:
“Robotics and AI are removing the human constraints and physical limitations on surgery and placement of innovative medicines. With ultra-high resolution robotic assistance, we can now consider the optimal site to place stem cells in the eye, brain, heart to drive regeneration. Or where to place cellular anti-cancer therapies to kill cancers. In the future, AI will further remove the speed, complexity and precision limitations inherent in a human being driving the robotic arm. Of course, human judgment is essential for the critical decision making but we should be able to rapidly automate the procedure. Automation should provide a higher quality of care, broader access and lower cost for patients.”
It’s quite unlikely that lawyers will be automatized in the near future as well. But, when you consider the benefits they get from AI at the moment, you might want to think twice.
Lawyers are already using a lot of software tools which help them find information and predict outcomes. Reasoning and thinking a bit more logically is still somewhat difficult for computers, but, software engineers everywhere are working towards overcoming this problem: there is even now AI-based programs rapidly developing an ability to understand contexts better.
Ross Intelligence, Kira Systems, LexisNexis are few tools already familiar to legal companies and firms that have embraced the future early. With their help, these companies are capable of cutting costs and increasing the overall efficiency. AI systems are able to recognize common patterns in large datasets of legal data and make predictions about outcomes based on similar past experiences for a while now. It’s not only generic tasks AI helps lawyers with; it’s also sophisticated and complex ones too.
3) Writing Jobs
Don’t act too surprised: proofreading addons have already become a part of your life!And that’s merely the first of few steps necessary to develop an artificial writer. In fact, software tools capable of writing poems are already around for some time. The new development is that they’ve grown smarter and better.
Building associations and interhuman connections is something AI is unable to achieve at the present moment – and may be unable to achieve for many years to come. Emotional intelligence will remain a difficult thing for computer programs regardless of their intelligence. Therefore, most of the activities which include creativity and emotions remain in the domain of the humans. For now, that is.
At Google, they are currently working on an AI software which should be able to write in a humanlike manner, once it has employed all the advancements in ML and NLP.
The first step is learning the craft by digesting several million novels. The second: putting the learned things together and finding some links. (Now, this sounds pretty much similar to what a real writer does, right?). The third: producing the story or the poem.
The results well, they weren’t that impressive, but were something to behold at. The stories looked very much like stories; but, they lacked depth. The poems as well. Although, they should make a Vogon proud.
In both the western and the eastern parts of the tech world, there are numerous AI writing projects. Some of them are training AI machines to write prose, some of them are focused more on poetry (for comparison, here’s another similar project). Scientists believe that it’s only a matter of time before even learned individuals are unable to tell the difference between human and artificial writing.
Even that’s nothing new. Ever heard of Ern Malley?
In Hidden Figures, a biographical film about black female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Cold War, there was one remarkable moment. One of the main heroines learns about the installation of an IBM computer, because of which all of her co-workers (employed to perform calculations by hand) got fired. So, she teaches herself FORTRAN, and, soon enough, she is promoted to supervise the programming department for the IBM.
The events described in this film took place during the Third Industrial Revolution, a period when many people became unemployed. There was suddenly no need for many jobs, due to the (relatively) powerful computers able to substitute people.
Those who didn’t want to be left outside the employment market learned new things and adapted to this new reality. And, in some way, this scenario will repeat itself very soon. Learning how likely is to be replaced by a robot is one thing (by the way, if you’re a man, you should be especially aware); the more important thing is to realize that you must stay open to learning new things and adapt to the changing conditions.