Demystifying AI: What’s Fiction, and What’s Worth Fanfare?
As Artificial Intelligence drives a fourth industrial revolution, fears and doubts about AI are pervasive. In the first industrial revolution, machines began replacing manual labor, and there were human concerns over the change. Here is demystifying AI. What’s fiction and what’s worth the fanfare?
What is the truth about Artificial Intelligence today?
At hand today, in the fourth industrial revolution, are rational and irrational fears. With any new radical thinking and ideas, disruption in the status quo and an influx of unknown information — people have fear. Think caveman and fire. Great idea — but it was scary because it was unknown.
To embrace and benefit from AI, it’s important that we take a moment to reflect on the lessons of past technological change in order to better plan for minimizing risk. We want to maximize the value of AI’s increasing importance.
In addition, we also must find ways to convince skeptics that AI, ultimately, will help people in innumerable ways.
Debunking two of the most common — most concerning myths about AI.
Myth #1: AI will replace jobs and maybe even humans.
When machine production began replacing some types of manual labor in the 18th century, unemployment rose for a period of time. But that’s not the whole story, and not what’s happening now.
Implementing new technologies changes human jobs, but it doesn’t necessarily remove them. We see the new AI technology as a great addition to most human jobs.
The data bear this out: Gartner has made a case for just how many jobs AI will add, claiming that, by 2020, AI will take 1.8 million jobs and replace them with 2.3 million new ones. That’s a net gain of 500,000 jobs. AI will benefit our employment landscape.
The long-term impact of AI.
What these jobs will look like is described somewhat in a PricewaterhouseCoopers study gauging the long-term impact of AI. While PwC found that there will be some job displacement, as some positions would be made redundant by AI technologies, new jobs will be created.
AI opens doors to things like new productivity channels and a need for new responses to new consumer demands.
PwC also predicted a need for “new types of workers who will focus on thinking creatively about how AI can be developed and applied [and to] build, maintain, operate, and regulate these emerging technologies.”
It will be exciting to watch a whole new landscape of creative tech jobs unfold due to advancements in AI. For example, there’s already an emerging field dedicated to AI marketing tools that specialize in helping businesses take that creative and targeted next step.
Beyond concerns of job loss and job change, though, are some general stressors about what it means for AI to be better than humans at just about everything in a little over 40 years. If you’ve read any sci-fi novels or seen any sci-fi movies in which Robot Overlords are in control, this fear will be familiar.
Realistically, though, there are some places AI cannot, and will not, go. For example, the Gartner study found that attempts to have AI replace sales associates at real estate agencies will be unsuccessful. Most individuals prefer interacting with knowledgeable people over interacting with machines. We associate more pleasing experiences and empathy with real humans.
Some of these fears about robots taking over our lives reflect some ignorance about how pervasive AI already is.
For example, have you called for help with a transaction and found yourself responding to computer prompts? That is AI in action. Customer service call centers are a huge AI success story, and it’s not because the tech is replacing humans.
The success is because tech is helping humans to provide better customer service. Helping each other, especially in tech support is an important distinction that still may feel a little sci-fi but is to everyone’s great benefit.