It’s a situation many people have feared since movies started portraying the downfall of mankind. Humans build robots, and those robots inevitably rise up and destroy mankind. Granted, the situation that experts are foreseeing isn’t quite as dire or dramatic as the destruction of mankind, but there’s no doubt that artificial intelligence replacing much of the human workforce is a pretty bad outcome as well. The impact on the economy and state of the world will be enormous.
The expert who has stated this fear is Kai Fu Lee, a Chinese AI pioneer and venture capital individual who told 60 Minutes that artificial intelligence will take over a vast array of white and blue collar jobs in the next fifteen years. His exact words were “AI will increasingly replace repetitive jobs, not just for blue-collar work, but a lot of white-collar work. Chauffeurs, truck drivers, anyone who does driving for a living — their jobs will be disrupted more in the 15 to 25-year time frame.” Kai Fu Lee believes that even jobs such as chef or waiter could be replaced in that time-span.
Of course, this is only a prediction and there is no way Kai Fu Lee could know exactly when this technological revolution will take place. After all, the world’s current level of artificial intelligence, such as the kind used in Siri or Alexa, are very basic and serve rather narrow and straightforward purposes. They are nowhere near the level of sophistication they would need to be to replace the job of a cook or chef.
Within the next 15 years, 40-50% of routine jobs in the US will be replaced by artificial intelligence. Here are the jobs I believe will face the biggest risk of being so. Learn more in #AISuperpowers at https://t.co/Gv5xRcy1eg. pic.twitter.com/Ooaa9foM9e
— Kai-Fu Lee (@kaifulee) October 5, 2018
But there is no denying that this AI technological revolution is coming. Lee may be wrong in his time-frame; perhaps it will take thirty or forty years instead of fifteen to twenty five, but ultimately AI will replace many menial and repetitive jobs. After all, we already have cars that drive themselves. Truckers are already faced with the possibility of being replaced by machines. It is only a matter of time before our technological innovations result in more advanced AI that can tackle even more complex tasks.
That said, it is not as though this is an unprecedented event. Many eras of human history have seen a new technology take over a vast portion of a society’s jobs. Electricity and steam engines came before and ruined many jobs for many people, but society found ways to pick up the slack. According to Kai Fu Lee, the issue this time around is that the revolution is happening much faster than those did, and that the global economy isn’t anywhere near prepared enough to handle it at this moment.
He’s probably right about that, and we can only guess what kind of massive impact the improvement of AI will have on blue and white collar jobs that can be replaced. Will governments find new jobs to provide to that forty percent? Or will society evolve in some other way where the lack of jobs won’t matter that much because much of society has become automated anyway?
Source: Kai Fu Lee via Twitter