Machine learning is already a reality, though many people might not realise it. Any interaction you have with Siri, Google, Netflix, or Amazon is influenced by machines that learn how to improve themselves over time. But will machine learning replace jobs? Let’s find out…
A brand new study by top academics from Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute, Yale University, and AI Impacts surveyed 352 machine learning experts to find out their views and predictions of AI in the workplace over the coming decades.
Key questions asked to the AI experts included the timing of specific capabilities and occupations and when they predict the crossover point where machines outperform humans will be, and what the impact will be on society.
The experts revealed that machines will be better than humans at:
- Translating languages by 2024
- Writing school essays by 2026
- Driving a lorry by 2027
- Working in retail by 2031
- Be able to write a bestseller by 2049
- Be working as surgeons by 2053
The study goes onto suggests that there is a 50% possibility that AI will outperform humans in 45 years time. Researchers say it could come even quicker.
Taking a look at the UK, PWC researchers have said that up to around 30% of existing UK jobs are susceptible to automation from robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) by the early 2030s, but in many cases, the nature of jobs will change rather than disappear. This figure is lower than the US at 38% and Germany at 35%, but higher than Japan at 21%.
The likelihood of automation appears highest in sectors such as transport, manufacturing, wholesale and retail, and lower in education, health and social work. Male workers could be at greater potential risk of job automation than women, but education is the key differentiating factor for individual workers.
Automation will boost productivity and wealth, leading to offsetting additional job gains elsewhere in the economy – but income inequality may rise. Economic, legal and regulatory constraints may restrict the pace and extent of increases in automation in practice. The study estimates that the UK (30%) has a lower proportion of existing jobs at potential high risk of automation than the US (38%) and Germany (35%), but more than Japan (21%).
John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, commented:
“A key driver of our industry-level estimates is the fact that manual and routine tasks are more susceptible to automation, while social skills are relatively less automatable. That said, no industry is entirely immune from future advances in robotics and AI.”
The trend line is clear, but the “headlines” are hard to see coming. Back in 2000, for example, we had a decent estimate of the advances in computing power over the next several years. Even with that information, though, no one could have identified “headline” disruptors like Facebook or the App Store. In the mid-1990s, a book about the future of technology was so advanced it came with its own CD-ROM. Although the book shared insights about potential new uses of computers, it was later criticised for having said little about the Internet. The author was very smart and quite familiar with technology businesses. His name was Bill Gates.
Stephen Hawking has said, “The development of full AI could spell the end of the human race”… but is the really likely?
Elon Musk has tweeted that AI is a greater threat to humans than nuclear weapons. When extremely intelligent people are concerned about the threat of AI, one can’t help but wonder what’s in store for humanity.
Computer scientists like Ray Kurzweil contend that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will breeze past human intelligence — and keep on learning. AI and humans will work side by side to turbocharge the speed of invention. Kurzweil and others call this the “singularity”, a term used to describe phenomena that approach infinity in some way.
We all (as individuals, companies, and countries) have to get ready for disruptors that we cannot foresee. Technology lies behind global development and alters how people live. It affects every job, every human activity. It makes services, healthcare, and information available in ways that were unimaginable just a few decades ago. Along the way, it upsets social norms, disrupts industries, and dislocates workers. The pace of ever-improving technology shows no signs of letting up.
Advancing AI can seem scary, but it also poses a great opportunity. Every business will have to think about what it means for them. What will the next couple of decades bring?