Robots vs. humans

Will We Lose Our Jobs to Robots?

First of all, tell me how many machines have helped you today? Most of you use your mobile devices and laptops every single day, cooking and cleaning is unimaginable without the so-called "modern appliances". Electronic gadgets monitor home security, air conditioning and all smart home devices. The business side of our life, e.g. work in factories, offices and field environments has been carried out with the help of automation for many years now. It's faster, safer and saves our energy. So what role will robots play in our future?

Imagine that your toaster or microwave can think! Artificial intelligence is something that allows machines to take decisions, remember your preferences and analyze your mood. Thanks to intelligent software technology, they can communicate and even started to joke! As I see it, AI is one of the steps of the evolution of simple mechanisms (and who knows how many more of them there will be!).

AI robots help us in day-to-day life, but every cloud has a silver lining. Due to the growing number of their functions and the ability to learn, machines are gradually taking away our jobs. A 2013 research paper out of the Oxford Martin School in the UK estimates that roughly 47 percent of the total US jobs are at risk of computerization or automation. That means almost half of the jobs in the US could end up being automated.

Feeling nervous?

The jobs more eligible to computerisation are those which involve simple repetitive tasks. According to the British survey the probability of being replaced by computers is extremely high for such professions as typists, mathematical technicians, watch repairers, referees, drivers and all kinds of clerks. Manual work, analyzing and comparing – all of this is much faster when done by a robot. Also, it's safer to wage wars using robots, so the military sphere will be altered as well. A robotic soldier will have no fear, only obedience. Moreover, AI machines are getting quicker and cheaper with every coming year. For example, "…costs have fallen by about 50% since 1990 — while U.S. labor costs have risen 80%." Giants like Google, Facebook and Apple are investing huge sums into AI software engineering. Nobody wants to lag behind.

Of course, some of you will say that typing a text or sorting doesn't really need any intelligent software, well, guys, it's only a matter of time when a fellow like Baxter will be able not only to pack but operate without our observation and take decisions independently. The process of substitution doesn't and will not happen in a single moment. It's a gradual process. And even though chatbots can still hide humans behind them, we all know that automation is largely progressing.

Imagine the unimaginable

Many people believe that no existing or future job is safe simply because computers are general purpose thinking machines which are smarter and less error prone. Moreover, they can learn, remember? And this fact really scares me. Nobody knows what they will be able to do with time. Learning for robots is easy – no tiredness or lack of desire, no procrastination, taking lunch breaks or falling in love. Nothing distracts them from studying.

I think this is the reason why the survey has no jobs with 0% probability of being substituted (the lowest is 0,0028 for a recreational therapist). Let's try to speculate whether the spheres with the lowest risk of substitution will ever be taken by AI robots. What is the future of robotics in these fields?

  • Creative Arts

Art is an expression of human creativity and imagination. I doubt that robots with their rational thinking will be able to surpass people in that. Of course, there already are such AI computers as Dubbed Sound Machines 2.0. Some of them can even fool people into thinking that their music was written by a human, but I still strongly disagree that they can express their imagination (Simply because they don't have any…). It's just shouldn't be called art then, rather something more like AArt, Rart, RobotArt, AIpiece, etc.

  • Healthcare & Medicine

As I see it, the future of robots in medicine will be definitely connected to gathering and analyzing a large amount of information, thus, such jobs are more likely to be substituted. On the other hand, I can't imagine myself trusting my life into the hands of a humanoid robot, however intelligent it is or, for example, that I may follow health recommendations assigned by a machine. I rather see them as assistants, like Watson - analyzing labs, providing substantial information on similar cases or latest innovations, performing surgery. However, the final decisions should be taken by a human. Computers will never be able to make tough decisions based on incomplete patient data or deal with human psychology.

  • Professional Sports

Let's see what the core ideas of sport are. To my mind, it is competition, physical activity and entertainment (both for participants and spectators). I don't think a group of robots swimming, passing a ball or doing gymnastics can be called sportsmen. In addition, it doesn't involve you being physically active. Moreover, very often we cheer not for some physical skills but for the personality, for the story behind. Something that is difficult to replicate. Although I have to admit that if you give a name, a story and a kind of a face (or basic personality) to a robot, it is more likely to touch my feelings (as it happened to me while watching Spielberg's "Reel SteelI"). This leads me to thinking that, perhaps, the world of sport can be altered as well.

So in order to understand if your job is at risk in the future, you should answer the following question: "Does it involve intuition, creativity, imagination, emotions?" If the answer is yes, you are more or less safe for the time being. As for those who think that the future of robotics will have nothing to do with their working place, and strongly believe that their jobs will never be taken by AI robots, I have only one thing to say – "never say never!" For me, only one thing remains clear – the future of robots in society is more influential than we can imagine. Let’s just hope, we are moving in the right direction.