Artificial Intelligence expert Jerry Kaplan says those whose jobs involve ‘a narrow set of duties’ are most likely to see their work replaced by automation. Ever since the first vision of a robot appeared on the horizon of mankind, humans have feared that automation would replace the workforce in our dystopian future.
There typically follows a period of reassurance, in which we are compelled to believe that this will be a good thing, and that robots could actually liberate us from the drudgery of daily toil and fee us for more enjoyable, cerebral pursuits. Futurist Jerry Kaplan, 63, is among those optimists. He estimates that 90% of Americans will lose their jobs to robots and we should all be happy about it.
“If we can program machines to read x-rays and write news stories, all the better. I say good riddance,” Kaplan said. “Get another job!” (Wow!)
What’s not discussed is the observation that inequality will be “a dark cloud” over this period of robotic rule. The robots, Kaplan admitted, will be owned by the rich. “The benefits of automation naturally accrue to those who can invest in the new systems, and that’s the people with the money. And why not? Of course they’re reaping the rewards,” he said.
“We don’t have to steal from the rich to give to the poor. We need to find ways to give incentives to entrepreneurs.”
One possible solution to 90% unemployment would be job mortgages, so that people who are displaced by robots can take out loans toward future earnings in unknown jobs. “People should be able to learn new skills by borrowing against future earnings capacity,” he said. There will be a difficult period of transition during which massive unemployment will sweep the country. “The bad news is it takes time for these kind of things to happen.”
Kaplan was here to give a positive spin on the future. With a PhD in computer science specializing in artificial intelligence and a fellowship at the Center for Legal Informatics at Stanford University Law School, he’s a bonafide expert. His argument for the future of jobs foreshadows how this next industrial revolution – one that is inevitable, one that is facilitated by very smart robots – will be sold to the masses.
“Machines automate tasks, not jobs. Many of these tasks require straightforward logic or hand-eye coordination,” Kaplan said. “If your job requires a narrow set of duties, then indeed your employment is at risk.”
He contrasted licensed nurse duties (a lengthy list of activities that involved empathy and problem solving) with bricklayer duties (laying bricks).
“This doesn’t make society worse, it makes it better,” he said. “It may take only 2% of the population to accomplish what 90% of our population does today. So what?”
He said new jobs would emerge and cited the fact that his daughter’s job hadn’t existed 10 years ago – she’s a social media manager.
Kaplan mentioned other employment options that will remain: tennis pros, party planners, flower arrangers and undertakers. “No one wants to go to a robotic undertaker,” he said. “Can you imagine?”
Though the robots might take jobs, they wouldn’t be doing so consciously, so we can stop worrying about that: “Robots don’t think the way people think. There’s no persuasive evidence that they’re on the path to becoming sentient beings.”
“AI is simply a natural expansion of longstanding efforts to automate tasks,” he said.
“Robots don’t cook or make beds. They don’t have independent goals and desires. They aren’t marrying our children.” Very comforting.
Read Article (Nellie Bowles | theguardian.com | 03/12/2016)
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