Donald Trump has recently claimed that robots are at least another 50-100 years from taking jobs away from humans. But I’m not sure that he has his numbers correct. But I guess it is all about how we define “robot”. Another term that is synonymous with “robot” is “artificial intelligence”. And are they really different? If you think of a robot more along the lines of C3P0, then he might have a point. But if you shift your way of thinking to the artificial intelligence route, you might be surprised at what robots are already doing.
To me, both are the same. One is more life like than the other, but essentially, they are both achieving the same goal. Throughout the years, technology has changed the way we do all kinds of things. Factory’s have had mass-production for decades. And a lot of credit for that mass-production can be given to computers. So how does that differ from a robot? If a computer can tell something what to do, and that task is executed, is that not artificial intelligence? Over the years, many factory workers have been replaced because a computer can do the work for it. In one way or another.
In the movie “Hidden Figures”, we saw some of the human computers being replaced (eventually) by actual computers. Also, in that movie, the actual computer wasn’t as accurate as the human one, and thus we saw a reversal. But with technology improving, we are always finding new and better ways of doing things. And will this put people out of their jobs? I don’t really know that I have an answer for that, but I wonder if we’re looking at it all wrong.
In the movie “Hidden Figures” we also saw the way that people adapt to changing technology. Instead of finding herself out of a job, when the new computers were being introduced, one of the main characters learned how to program the computers. Thus, giving her an upper hand when the managers were looking for people to work the computers. She adapted! And I think that’s what we are all going to have to do at some point. Even if you’re in a service oriented job, I think there’s a possibility that a kiosk could replace you in the future. I find it less frustrating to be able to go online and complete a task, rather than have to stand in a line and deal with a potentially disgruntled human. I’m thinking DMV?
Maybe this is a stretch. Maybe the idea of artificial intelligence is that a human doesn’t have to be involved. At all. But someone has to create, develop, design and program such AI. Or am I wrong? And said AI is likely going to need to be improved from time to time. And maybe even further developed… so I think that this idea that robots or AI are going to replace humans completely is a bit of a stretch. I just think that the jobs we will be doing will change. And I also doubt that this will be the case for every job. I can only see this having an impact on jobs where there is a bottom line impact. Such as a manufacturing type job. It will be interesting to see if the cost of technology will be low enough to be able to produce the products without causing the prices to increase.
So where are we seeing AI already? Think Siri, or Alexa. Or what about your Rumba? Drones are becoming less reliant on people to fly them. And have you seen the Zenbo? A bit creepy for my liking, but definitely more along the lines of a traditional “robot” than we have seen in the past. You might actually be using AI and not even realizing it. For example, have you ever used Google Photos? Google uses technology to scan your images and identify certain landscapes. By scanning millions of photos and recognizing a tree, it is using AI to give you the ability to search for “trees” within your photos. And thus finding them easily.
I think AI has already started to change the jobs that we have. Maybe not replace humans completely, but we certainly are starting to see a shift. So is Trump right, or just misinformed about what a robot is? Or is it a larger political move? This kind of seems to be my “go to” analysis, but Trump has been running on a jobs creation platform since day one. Robots taking jobs away from Americans flies in the face of that platform. But I think the jobs are still going to be there, but they aren’t going to look the same. And we just need to figure out a way to adapt and grow with that changing system.