Scientist Moshe Vardi tells colleagues that change could come within 30 years, with few professions immune to the effect of Advanced Artificial Intelligence. Machines could put more than half the world’s population out of a job at some point during this period of time, according to a computer scientist who said on Saturday that artificial intelligence’s threat to the economy should not be understated.
Expert Moshe Vardi told the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): “We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task. I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: if machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?”
The fear of artificial intelligence has even reached the UN, where a group ‘Campaign to Stop Killer Robots’ met with diplomats last year.
Vardi, a professor at Rice University and Guggenheim fellow, said that technology presents a more subtle threat than the masterless drones that some activists fear. He suggests that AI’s drive of global unemployment to 50%, will wipe out middle-class jobs and exacerbate inequality.
Vardi alluded to economist John Maynard Keynes’ rosy vision of a future in which billions worked only a few hours a week, with intelligent robots supporting their easy life-styles. But Vardi insisted that even if machines make life easier, humanity will face an existential challenge.
“I do not find this a promising future, as I do not find the prospect of leisure-only life appealing,” he said. “I believe that work is essential to human wellbeing.” Citing research from MIT, he noted that although Americans continue to drive GDP with increasing productivity, employment peaked around 1980 and average wages for families has gone down. “It’s automation,” said Vardi.
He also predicted that automation’s effect on unemployment would have huge political consequences, and lamented that leaders have largely ignored it. “We are in a presidential election year and this issue is nowhere on any candidates’ radar.
As an example of how no human profession is totally immune, he said “Are you going to bet against sex robots? I would not.”
Last year, the consulting company McKinsey published research about which jobs are at risk thanks to intelligent machines, and found that some jobs – well paid careers like doctors and hedge fund managers – are better protected than others. Also, some low-paying jobs, including landscapers and health aides – are better protected than others.
Vardi said he wanted the gearing of scientists to consider: “Does the technology we are developing ultimately benefit mankind? Humanity is about to face perhaps its greatest challenge ever, which is finding meaning in life after the end of “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,” he said. “We need to rise to the occasion and meet this challenge.”
Dire forecasts such as Vardi’s are not without their critics, including Pulitzer-winning author Nicholas Carr and Stanford scientist Edward Geist. Carr has argued that human creativity and intuition in the face of complex problems is essentially irreplaceable, and an advantage over computers and their overly accurate reputation.
A recent change at Mercedes-Benz swaps robots for people supports this argument, the automaker is to replace some of its robots with more capable humans at its Sindelfingen plant. The move comes after the robots failed to keep up with the pace and complexity required in key customization options involved in the manufacture of the Mercedes S-class saloon.
Mercedes rivals Audi and BMW are also reported to be conducting tests on robots, to check if they are safe when working around humans, equipping them with more sensors and intelligence. Toyota too has begun similar processes to replace robots with humans to increase efficiency and reduce waste.
Read Article (Alan Yuhas | theguardian.com | 02/13/2016)
Technological Unemployment is the loss of jobs caused by technological change. Such change typically includes the introduction of labor-saving machines or more efficient processes. Historical examples include artisan weavers reduced to poverty after the introduction of mechanized looms.
Sometimes theory doesn’t successfully translate into real-life, and in the face of complex problems it appears robots can’t match the creativity and intuition of humans. That being said, the Digital Era is all pervasive and it’s up to each individual to get a little Tech-savvy for their own wellbeing and that of their loved ones.
Master Level High-Tech Webinars