Recently, on the occasion of 20th Anniversary of the Vibrant Gujrat Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Science City in Ahmedabad. Among the intriguing highlights of his visit was a unique visit to the robotics gallery, where he was served a cup of tea by a robot. He posted various other clips of his fascinating visit on the social platform X (previously Twitter). Among the feelings of wonder and astonishment about a robot serving tea to the Prime Minister, it also raised concerns as it was realised that the job of a local chaiwala was lost.
With the recent scientific advancements and modern technological improvements, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that science fiction has begun to take on the face of our reality. In the mid-20th century, advancements in artificial technology began with scientists exploring the idea of algorithms and computation. The idea of a world with robots performing different jobs for us has begun to become our reality. Nevertheless, it has begun to take a heavy toll on the future of certain jobs and the lives of millions of people.
With the cutting-edge advancements in technology, the jobs that were once manual are beginning to be replaced by the artificial intelligence. But before diving deep into its impact, it is also necessary to understand why AI, which was once a topic of fascination, has suddenly become a topic of concern.
THE CAUSE OF RAPID ADVANCEMENTS IN AI
The improvement in technology has been happening since the mid- 20th century. However, in recent years, the improvement has itself taken place at a rapid pace. Compared to the early 2000s, the process of data collection and processing has shown massive progress, which fuels AI training. Data is now, available in abundance in its raw form, which aids in Artificial Intelligence, because AI is fed on data. The process of computation and processing has also become faster in the recent times, which acts as an engine that digests all the provided data in a reasonable time frame, which makes it even more impactful during AI training. New algorithms are being developed and improved, which increases the tendency of artificial intelligence to improve the mechanism of storing data. The rapid pace of the development of technology and the rapid integration of it into our regular lives have become the reasons for the widespread use of AI.
THE EFFECT OF AI ON JOBS: When is AI better than humans?
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023, released in May 2023, ‘Across 45 economies, covering 673 million workers, 69 million new jobs are expected to be created and 83 million to be eliminated, a net decrease of 14 million jobs, or 2% of current employment.’ This report highlights the vulnerability of millions of jobs to AI. It is a fact that machines are better than humans in physical labour involving lifting heavy loads with more efficiency and precision. The machines can do it all at a lower cost of maintenance and without regular breaks, unlike humans. However, with the advancements in generative AI like ChatGPT and Bard, more and more tech jobs are being eliminated, and thousands of people have lost their jobs.
Even though, from the employer’s perspective, the job that had to be done by humans earlier was similar to that done by AI, but at a lower cost, higher efficiency, and higher productivity in a shorter amount of time, yielding much more profit than before. But it was the employee who had to lose a job that was supposedly the only source of their income to survive and thrive.
The Jobs at Risk
While artificial intelligence will be everywhere in the future, it is necessary to understand the different components and skills required for the career choices and future jobs of the individual to protect them from being taken up by the technology. Any job that has tasks that are rule-based, repetitive, predictable, and written is vulnerable to being taken over by AI. Automation in technology would make all the entry-level jobs that don’t require many skills replaceable with AI. Automated cars and trucks will also replace drivers; automated chatbots will replace customer service providers; and robots serving tea will replace a large number of tea sellers. This change is going to be inevitable. It is necessary for people to be able to learn the ability to adapt, upskill, and reskill to remain significant in an AI-driven society.
The light of hope: AI-Proof Jobs
Amongst all the chaos about artificial intelligence replacing the human workforce, it is necessary for us to realise that AI is just a tool. Modern AI uses deep learning techniques to mimic what the human brain does, but without any conscience. It is fed with past data and exposed to new situations, for which we expect the AI to give intelligent output based on it. For better understanding, we can take an example of a picture of a husky in snow. When asked to identify the image by AI, it identified it as a wolf based upon the data of a wolf in snow fed to it.
This machine operates purely on computations and algorithms, which is what we need to understand. Any job that requires conscience, creativity, and skills including empathy and interpersonal relationships cannot be taken up by AI. No matter how advanced the technology is, an algorithm is always trained only to recognise very certain and limited data. As a matter of fact, it can be said that AI is ignorant. AI can be wrong at various places due to a lack of conscience, and if we expose ourselves to it without a thought, we can get into situations beyond our control.
It is a matter of fact that artificial intelligence, which is getting more advanced day by day, will become capable of performing all human functions in the future. In recent times, more and more people will be replaced by AI as the technology takes over traditional roles. But it is also a fact that change is a part of life, and there are no ways to avoid the consequences of change. Instead of escaping it, we must be prepared to adapt to it.
While there is a lot of hype around artificial intelligence replacing employment, much of this is due to the fact that the types of occupations being considered have a lot to do with the kinds of jobs that will be replaced. Unlike the AI, we humans have a conscience and it is us who should have the power of decision making instead of giving it up to the Artificial Intelligence. True, certain components of a job can be automated, but there are some aspects of a job that cannot be mechanised. There is a good likelihood that artificial intelligence can and will become a component of future occupations in a variety of ways.
Written By: Madhu Shah