Artificial Intelligence and Job Loss Debate
Since the Industrial Revolution, machines have taken the place of human beings in almost every workplace. However, some scholars still believe that if this trend continues, it will have a wider effect on employment than the 19-century textile mills and steam engines. I consider that people are overstating when they claim that Artificial Intelligence will become a threat to human jobs soon. Artificial intelligence will not replace human beings in the workforce. Instead, there will be an improvement in the structure of the economy, an increase in job opportunities, and a positive effect on lifestyle. Moreover, it will free us from day-to-day drudgery and allow us to have more positive and socially beneficial workplace.
David Autor, Economic Proffesor at MIT, claims that the economy is “hollowed out” by the intelligent machines (“Will Artificial Intelligence Lead to Unemployment?,” 2011). New jobs are emerging at the bottom of economic ladder; jobs in the middle of the ladder are lost through automations and offshore outsourcing. According to Carnegie Mellon Mitchell, “the economic impact will be huge” (“Will Artificial Intelligence Lead to Unemployment?,” 2011). The professors asserts, “We’re at the beginning of a 10-year period where we’re going to transition from computers that can’t understand language to a point where computers can understand quite a bit about language” (“Will Artificial Intelligence Lead to Unemployment?,” 2011). Martin Ford, a software developer and an author, gives a diverse view on the topic. According to him, intelligence machines will have no disastrous effect on the economy. Artificial Intelligence will not simply displace people. Adoption of machines signifies the end of the traditional capitalist labor market. According to the author, “It’s not just about unemployment,” but the change “is about consumers. As people lose their incomes they can no longer go out and buy things.” (“Will Artificial Intelligence Lead to Unemployment?,” 2011).
Ford further argues that with the increase in the use of artificial intelligence machines, the unskilled labor becomes very vulnerable. The machines will easily uptake the medieval tasks. He says, “this doesn’t mean that machines won’t also figure out how to flip burgers” (“Will Artificial Intelligence Lead to Unemployment?,” 2011). He observed that job loses will increase to the extent that the only solution will the government taxation and income distribution policies.
Several counter arguments have been put forward as for the negative impact of intelligent machines. Some believe that the negative influence of artificial intelligence machines is transitional and will enhance economic development. Robin Hanson, a professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., says, “substitute cheaply for … most human cognitive tasks,” such transition will have “a lot of overall positives” (“Will Artificial Intelligence Lead to Unemployment?,” 2011). The machines will be able to produce much wealth at a lower cost, which will enhance the economy.
Experts such as Gary Marcus believe that robotic revolution is catching up with human revolution. In his contribution to the New Yorker, he says that robots will outsmart humans and in “… a century from now, nobody will much care about how long it took, only what happened next.” The expert believes that machines will work out complex medical problems, program itself, and work 24 hours in a perfect condition. Marcus believes that Artificial Intelligence is a real threat to the labor market. Many people lose jobs like I.B.M. Watson Engagement Advisor, who has the capacity to answer technical questions with great accuracy. Critics further believe that machines will replace doctors, bankers, meteorologist, and teachers. According to the author, human being will lose control over machines, and artificial intelligence gadgets will rule the world economy. The euphoria over the capability of Artificial Intelligence is only a small proportion of its power that has been displayed.
Some people may say that factories may rely on Artificial Intelligence because they are quick at processing, do not feel tired, and the rate of them making mistakes is lower as compared to humans. Unfortunately, this is not true. Artificial Intelligence may seem sophisticated, but it is not sophisticated enough to self-repair. Humans create Artificial Intelligence; undeniably, it needs to be fixed by humans. While the level of technology begins to rise, better machines lead to more, not less, demand for humans. Furthermore, advance in technology have been net creators of jobs. The more advanced the technology is, the more human power is needed to make a research and build it. Furthermore, it is unquestionable that there is a positive relationship between the advancement of technology and demand for labor (“The 2014 Survey: Impacts of AI and Robotics by 2025: Will Networked, Automated AI Displace More Jobs than It Creates?” 2014).
Moreover, in order to keep up with the fast-changing world, the software has to be updated from time to time to maintain competitiveness. Additionally, humans are also needed to deal with computer viruses. Virus removal requires human intelligence in order to fight it off. Additionally, it is true that the productivity of artificial intelligence does not need lunch breaks unlike a human; its productivity will certainly be higher. Unfortunately, Artificial Intelligence lacks flexibility when it is computerized to do a certain job; robots, for example, will only stick to that job. In addition, this is not all we need in an accident-prone workplace. Technology machines are rigid and lack the flexibility of human brains that can cooperate with each other, solving problems through verbal and non-verbal communication is what a company needs. Humans have a huge advantage because we are social animals. Effective communication allows people to work together as a team through information exchange; humans can find out and solve the problem through teamwork. This is because it is too risky to rely solely on Artificial Intelligence. Accident-prone workplace coupled with the flexibility of the human brain guarantee a spot of human in the workplace.
In a capitalist economy, companies focus on profit-making; they will keep on inventing more gadgets in order to attract customers like Apple and Samsung. Companies like the abovementioned ones cannot afford to stop creating and inventing new technology products. These companies are two of the largest values in the market as well as substitutes for each other; if one of them stops producing new gadgets to attract customers, another will get most of the money from the markets. On top of that, the creation of Artificial Intelligence requires the creativity of humans, not Artificial Intelligence. Workers know what the trend is, they know what customers like and prefer and, most importantly, they design and produce gadgets. Workers play an important role in the chain of production; thus, they will not be replaced by Artificial Intelligence (Kayafas & Nick, 2008).
Artificial Intelligence is known as an advanced technology. Advanced technology requires a huge cost of production and maintenance that not every company is able to afford. Undeniably, small-scale companies do not have such high revenue to purchase artificial intelligence in bulk. Human labor is needed in such working environment (Weaver, 2013). Moreover, even large-scale companies want to cut their production cost in order to maximize their profit. Besides, they may hire workers from the third world, i.e. China, Indonesia and Africa. When hiring workers from these countries, companies can pay minimum wages to workers, hence reduce their production cost, at the same time, maintaining productivity. Thanks to capitalist economy, in the aim of maximizing profit, companies indirectly provide more job opportunities around the world
From economist point of view, the social, economic, and legal environment cannot allow unprotected Artificial Intelligence growth. Glenn Eden, the director of security networking at Computer Science Laboratory at PARC, which is Xerox Company, believes that technical and policy issues play a significant role in Artificial Intelligence adoption. With the merits placed upon Artificial Intelligence, there is a possible positive ROI, which might displace workers. However, any economy needs a large working force to maintain its market (“The 2014 Survey: Impacts of AI and Robotics by 2025: Will Networked, Automated AI Displace More Jobs than It Creates?” 2014).
Andrew Rens, the chief council at Shuttleworth Foundation, argues that from the entrepreneurial standpoint market is only maintained by demand and supply of goods and services. Hence, any stable economy must ensure that production is balanced by consumption. A country must maintain the balance by ensuring that people are employed for them to be able to make purchases. As a result, no government will advocate for full automation even if it is an efficient production strategy. On the other hand, Geoff Livingston, who is an author and president of Tenacity5 Media, says, “I see the movement towards AI and robotics as evolutionary,” partly because, “the technology may be ready, but we are not—at least, not yet.” From the statement, it should be understood that technological development must align to social values and demands, and with no full acceptance, no form of development can succeed (“The 2014 Survey: Impacts of AI and Robotics by 2025: Will Networked, Automated AI Displace More Jobs than It Creates?” 2014).
Based on the discussion, the anxiety over job loss due to Artificial Intelligence lacks foundation. The intricate nature of human beings put them ahead of any technology. Man controls the universe. The lifeline of any economy is its market forces and a full-fledged utilization of Artificial Intelligence that will literary water the world economy; as a result, no economic, political, and social environment will promote such development.