Slowly, Slowly – The Impact of AI in the Workplace

If you are worried that a world of AI-powered machines are about to take over, then the One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence from Stanford University should help to quell your worst fears. Experts, drawing upon experience in areas as diverse as cognitive science, philosophy and law, have been looking at the real impact AI will have on the workplace, and how the types of jobs and roles we undertake may change and develop.

The report looks at how the workplace, and other areas of society, will be impacted by the effects of AI, with specific focus on North America up until the year 2030. AI is already here and its various branches already have a positive impact on our lives. In the area of Deep Learning, pattern recognition is being applied to identify images, speech and audio. This leads to improved Computer Vision, enabling Autonomous Vehicles to recognize road signs, and better Speech Recognition, allowing us to use natural speech with Alexa to control our internet-enabled home appliances.

The US has already been significantly impacted by the introduction of digital technologies in various industries, which has seen society impacted by the loss of jobs in some areas whilst in others, completely new roles requiring skilled personnel have been created. AI is likely to have a very similar impact with AI innovations slowly taking over specific tasks rather than entire jobs. As it was difficult to predict precise roles the introduction of the computer would create, the Stanford report also highlights the lack of clarity around what new jobs AI might deliver.

What is certain is that governments must prepare for these changes, which will affect well-paying “cognitive” jobs as well as blue collar roles. This goes beyond education and re-training, with the report highlighting a need to reconsider the current social safety net to evolve healthcare, education and even muse upon a guaranteed basic income.

Arago Redaktion 10. January 2018