The fast-paced development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is at once opening some doors and closing others. As AI becomes more advanced an increasing number of tasks carried out by office workers today will be lost to automation, as those that require repetitive motions will be completed faster and more effectively by machines. This raises several questions: which jobs are safe and which are not? What jobs will arise as old ones are eliminated?
It seems that humans are simultaneously for and against machines. On the one hand, the people who are helping to develop AI clearly trust in its potential, while those who have jobs that can be easily replaced by machines are surely going to feel threatened by such advancements. This paradoxical relationship between humans and machinery has existed since the Industrial Revolution. However, the difference between then and now is simply that in the twenty-first century AI strives to replace human brain power, rather than merely manpower.
At the rate technology is advancing, some jobs are cannibalising others. Black cab drivers are having their business consumed by Uber, and ultimately, Sat-Nav and location services. However, Anthony Levandowski, Uber’s vice president of engineering has revealed: “Self-driving is core to Uber’s mission.” It will soon be the Uber drivers who must surrender to technology, and while their jobs are safe for the meantime – their future hangs in the balance.
This is true of many low-skilled jobs that rely heavily on repetitive movements in well-known settings, such as jobs in the food industry, retail sector and manufacturing. However, while there are many jobs that automation can replace, there are many that it will be unable to replicate. Moreover, the advancement of AI and the technology industry means more jobs will arise in this sector.
Jobs in healthcare, teaching and counselling, for example, are likely to remain safeguarded due to their requirements of traits such as empathy and compassion. Jobs in law and politics will always require some sense of human discernment to sustain them – though we might argue that many politicians are already resembling robots when it comes to speech-making and debate! The same goes for journalists; while much of the profession relies on an impartial approach to current affairs, a robot would never be able to hold the powerful to account – a quality central to democracy and traditional press values.