In fiction, artificial intelligence is often seen a menace that allows robots to take over and enslave humanity. While some share these concerns in real life, a researcher suggests the robot-conquest might be more subtle than imagined.
According to Moshe Vardi, director of the Institute for Information Technology at Rice University in Texas, in the coming 30 years, advanced robots will threaten tens of millions of jobs.
"I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: If machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?" he asked last Saturday at a panel discussion on artificial intelligence at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington DC.
According to his calculation, 10 percent of US jobs are related to driving vehicles (from taxis to trucks) and they could all disappear in the next 25 years, due to the launch of driverless cars. Many other employment sectors might be in danger as robots become smarter and smarter.
Vardi has been trying to start a global conversation about the impact of artificial intelligence on human life. In his 2012 article for the Atlantic, Vardi concluded there was a real need for addressing the ramifications of the accelerated innovation in robotics and computing.
"We cannot shirk responsibility from concerns for the welfare of the next generation," he wrote, adding: "We cannot blindly pursue the goal of machine intelligence without pondering its consequences." Stephen Hawking shared similar concerns in 2014 about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence.
Not everyone agrees with these views. Technology development is only part of the “futuristic” discussion. Automation of the workforce has occurred since the industrial revolution, and it has not contributed to a lasting unemployment crisis. The AI revolution might be different, however, as future robots will have both brains and brawn, but at the same time, it is not going to happen overnight – society might have time to organically integrate robots into the workforce and create new jobs to replace those that are lost.
[H/T: Financial Times]