Mark Zuckerberg has Jarvis, a home AI system designed to control doors, music, lights and other basic tasks at the Facebook CEO’s abode. It works through speech recognition, using natural language processing in performing the tasks that it needs to do. Zuckerberg is currently asking the public for opinions on how to further improve Jarvis, and the tasks that can be built-in to it. Whatever the future holds for Jarvis, only time can tell.
The Henn-na Hotel in Japan lives up to the literal translation of its name which means ‘strange hotel’. This sensation is often felt by guests as they enter the hotel, as they are served by humanoid robots. These robots, also called ‘actroids’, greet the guests and assist them with check-in. This futuristic hotel is operated 90% by these actroids, while the remaining 10% is handled by the 10 human employees.
The Henn-na Hotel is just one of the several commercial facilities that employ robots as part of their staff. As ‘cute’ as it may sound, the presence of robots and the advancement of AI technology is considered as a threat by some people.
The Threat of Robot and AI Technology
Do you feel that your current job is secure now? Think again. According to some experts, several currently existing roles might become automated in a few decades time, as the robots start to take over the commercial system. In fact, this trend is already starting to become a reality in certain industries.
For instance, robots are now employed to take over some manufacturing jobs. Case in point is what happened with Foxconn, a supplier company of Samsung and Apple. The company has replaced a total of 60,000 human employees with working robots. Not only that, Everwin Precision Technology in China is currently on the move with replacing a huge 90% of their workforce with these AI operated laborers.
Not only are these robots being used in the mainstream workforce industries, as some are currently being used in other fields, such as in farming, shepherding, tour guiding, and even in the army, as soldier robots.
Here comes the threat. If robots and AI technology continue to replace humans in terms of labor, what will be the earning source for humans in the years to come? How will humans sustain life in the future? With robots expecting to do most of the work, human need will be reduced. Humans are now faced with the tendency of unemployment.
‘Replacing’ vs. ‘Transforming
Before jumping in to any conclusion, it is best to understand the capabilities of these robots. Are they really capable of completely ‘replacing’ humans? Some suggest, however, that instead of serving as replacements, these robots will only work in ‘transforming’ the way work is done.
Despite the fact that these technologies are both important and real, and we can really expect that some of the jobs we currently have might disappear because of their presence, the reality of the future of our jobs is not as completely gloomy as what many people believe.
As a matter of fact, this automation will further encourage the growth of several new jobs, including ones that belong to completely new categories. Rather than replacement, the biggest impact that the presence of robots and the advancement of AI technology will be on job transformation. This means that we can expect to work side by side with these robots.
J.P. Gownder, Principal Analyst and Vice President at Forrester Research, has predicted that we will be facing a nuanced future. This means that automation will create jobs that can offset the eliminated human jobs. This will result to viewing job transformation as a highly compelling element in the equation.
While a society that serves as home to robots and humans working together is expected to introduce a revolution, we can be assured that it is not an evolution that we would be afraid of.
Should We Worry?
Observing how these robots and the AI technology is currently establishing its roots in the society, we could not help but think about the potential effects that this AI takeover can have on our place of work, and the human workforce as a whole.
One thing we can hold on to, however, is that while robots may replace you in your current job, it is not necessarily something negative. As observation from a study conducted in Oxford, Mr. Garry G. Mathiason, chairman of Littler Mendelson law firm, mentioned that there is no actual reason for worrying.
He explains that even though we may be able to experience the so-called job displacement in the future because of these robots, there will be an expected repositioning of workers into jobs which may not even exist as of today.
One of the examples quoted by Mathiason is with what has happened to the agriculture history. In the year 1870, this industry has provided jobs to about 80% of the population of a certain area. These days, however, taking into consideration the same area, only less than 1% are earning their living from agriculture.
If we look back at history and analyze unemployment rates, we can see that even though technology has advanced to huge leaps, the unemployment rate of different locations has either remained the same or decreased. This is because even though modern technologies have replaced the capabilities of some humans to perform work, there are other jobs opened because of this change.
An Exciting Future
Rather than worrying with something that has not even happened yet, embracing the value of robots as well as the advancement of AI technology, can bring a more satisfactory life. These changes will come, and they will take root deep within us even before we notice it. This means that some of these changes will not be really visible to our eyes, but we can feel it later on. We might be forced to shift jobs because of these changes, we are still aware that nothing can ever completely replace the capabilities of a created human being.