Aeryn DarnellMr. DunhamAdvanced Composition12/20/27Artificial Intelligence in the WorkplaceIn recent years, artificial intelligence has gotten more and more attention, and for good reason.
Many think the new technology has the ability to take over almost every job, and change society. Even Stephen Hawking, a famous teacher at the University of Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time, (an international bestseller) argues that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race” (Cellan-Jones). This, however, seems odd. How could AI take over every job? The inability to inhibit human feeling and emotion would hinder its ability to replace humans doing the same jobs. Therefore, the theory that AI could never replace jobs such as education and psychology arose. Objections to this theory quickly arose; Nick Bostrom, the founder of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impact of Future technology, says that superintelligence will exist in the very near future. In Bostrom’s book, “Superintelligence, Paths, Dangers, and Strategies”, superintelligence is defined as “an intellect that is much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills” (Bostrom).
Many fear that AI has the ability to change the working world as it is known. In February 2016, Citibank and the University of Oxford reported that 47% of jobs in the United States are at risk of automation (“Technology at Work”). Although technology may never be able to outperform humans, there is still a certain risk of it affecting the workforce.
More research needs to be completed before integrating AI into people’s everyday work life.A common theme seen in many movies, books, etc.; the so called ‘robots’ take over the world, physically harming nations around the world. So, is there a real threat of technology becoming violent against people? Anca Dragon, the director of University of Berkeley’s department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of Berkeley, says yes. According to her, “an immediate risk is agents producing unwanted, surprising behavior; even if we plan to use AI for good, things can go wrong, precisely because we are bad at specifying objectives and constraints for AI agents.
Their solutions are often not what we had in mind” (“Technology At Work”). The lack of deductive reasoning in technology could hinder the way they work, and how compatible they are with people. A research run outreach organization argues that the risk of physical harm by AI rests in the hands of humans. The Future of Life Organization warns that “if you ask an obedient intelligent car to take you to the airport as fast as possible, it might get you there chased by helicopters and covered in vomit, doing not what you wanted but literally what you asked for” (Tegmark). Again, this lack of reasoning that AI perhaps will never master is still an imminent risk to humanity. The human brain is extremely impressive; even just the things neurologists know about it amaze them. Just the brain has over 100 billion neurons, says The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
Although that by itself is extremely impressive, every neuron has up to 10,000 links with other neurons, meaning the brain is one of the most complex things on the planet (“How the Brain Works”). The world’s best scientists don’t even know how most of the brain works. That being said, what are the main differences between AI and human intellect?Originality is thought to be the hardest part of the human thought process to replicate. In the same University of Oxford and Citibank study, this theory was verified. “Human creativity is the most difficult human faculty to automate. It is certainly possible to design an algorithm that can churn out an endless sequence of paintings, but it is still difficult to teach such an algorithm the difference between the emotionally powerful and the dreck” (“Technology at Work”). A study done by the National Endowment for Science, Technology, and the Arts concluded that, with jobs involving ‘creativity,’ 90% of them are safe from being replaced with superintelligence. In A World Without Work, Derek Thompson argues that this is not necessarily true.
He says that many jobs, such as painting, are not safe from automation, as these tasks are being performed better and better by technology. Social intelligence is another human trait considered difficult for AI. In the same study mentioned above, it is stated that “a job is particularly well-insulated from automation if it combines high originality with a high requirement for active interaction with other people” (“Technology at Work”). Although this study seemingly implies that jobs such as psychology are safe, many people actually prefer the use of technology, as they feel like they won’t be judged; they feel more secure (“A World Without Work”). This means that, instead of helping some jobs become safe from automation, human emotion could actually be quite the opposite. The hardest part of deciding how much automation to put into the workplace is that everything is theoretical. However, it can be helpful to look to the past to see how it has affected other generations.
President Richard Nixon is an excellent example of this; in this speech “Address to the Nation on Labor Day” he talks about the government’s worry that technology has the ability to take over humanity. He himself, however, was certainly more excited for the new automated future than other. Nixon said that “that technology does not dehumanize work, but makes it more creative and rewarding for the people who will operate the plants of the future” (“Address to Nation on Labor Day”). The director of Cyber Security Laboratory at the Speed School of Engineering, Roman Yampolskiy, writes that “even a small probability of existential risk becomes very impactful once multiplied by all the people it will affect. Nothing could be more important than avoiding the extermination of humanity” (“Technology at Work”). Moshe Vardi, a computer science professor at Rice University, as well as The World Economic Forum, support Yampolskiy’s view, ensuring that “the rise of robots will lead to a net loss of over 5 million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies by 2020” (Price).
This statistic, although seemingly alarming, is hypothetical. However, this should raise attention enough to pursue more regulation of AI.Many experts believe that automation will be able to take over every single job, however these specialists seemingly disregard the manufacturing aspect of technology; jobs must be created to make the new technology. An organization that works with cybersecurity all across the nation, the International Society of Automation (ISA), writes that although jobs will be replaced by artificial intelligence, “new jobs will be created to control and design the artificial intelligence” (“What is Automation”). Nick Bostrom writes that automation is defined as “the technique of making an apparatus, a process, or a system operate automatically”(Bostrom). This, however, differs from the ISA’s definition. The ISA, in contrast to many other sources, defines automation as “everyone involved in the creation and application of technology to monitor and control the production and delivery of products and services” (“What is Automation?). Some people are still skeptical, still of the opinion that AI could still be able to take over these new jobs.
So, assuming superintelligence is a threat to humanity, how long until people start seeing the effects? The CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Oren Etzioni, ensures that it will be many decades before AI is a threat. He writes that “By 2022- 10% of the human mind will be able to be replicated in artificial intelligence, 50% by 2040, and 90% by 2075” (Etzioni). According to the research conducted by him, he argues that there is no need to worry. This, however, is in contrast to what researchers have seen in the past. “In 2015, the Edelman Trust Barometer found that more than half of the global ‘informed public’ believe that the pace of development and change in business today is ‘too fast’ with 70% citing technology as the driver of change. Over 96% of institutional clients who participated in Citi’s survey on technology and work believe that automation will accelerate over the next five years” (“Technology at Work”). Because all of this is hypothetical, either side should agree that AI needs to be regulated. Works CitedBostrom, Nick.
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