Can We Outrun the AI Job-Apocalypse?

Mitch Wagner
2/6/2017
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Artificial intelligence (AI) still can't tell us whether AI will take all the jobs. AI can do a lot of things, but it still can't do that.

Economists and computer scientists have been warning for years that as artificial intelligence gets smarter, it will start to put big chunks of people out of work. Not just people who work with their hands, in factories and warehouses, but knowledge workers too. People with desk jobs.

AI helps find insights in warehouses of seemingly unrelated data. It searches legal documents for discovery. And it can even diagnose cancer. These are all things that, until recently, only human beings could do.

As AI learns to do more and more work, will there be any more work for humans to do?

This has policy-makers and journalists concerned. A cynic might say that it's because policy-makers and journalists are knowledge workers, and they're worried about their own jobs.

The question has us at Light Reading concerned too, so we decided to look into it. We talked to experts, read research papers and went back in history literally thousands of years, looking for precedents.

Find out more about what we learned here: Will AI Create More Jobs Than It Destroys?

— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud

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Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/6/2017 | 1:07:30 PM
sci-fi answer
We can outrun it if we don't give the AI any indication of our moves to prevent its ultimate rise among our ranks...
Kelsey Ziser
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Kelsey Ziser,
User Rank: Blogger
2/6/2017 | 2:32:05 PM
Re: sci-fi answer
In the WiC article, Artificial Intelligence Expert Weighs In for WiC, AI Professor Melanie Mitchell explained that teaching computers how to access commonsense is still really difficult. She said, "It's because we have bodies and interact with the environment and learn as we develop, but giving these invisible commonsense knowledges to computers is difficult.

An example is, Watson answered a question about Michael Phelps -- which swimmer won a race by 100th of a second? It knew it was Phelps, but if you asked if he got wet in the process, it wouldn't have known the answer. It's background knowledge. It's explicit. Getting computers to somehow have that knowledge is really challenging."

That background knowledge and experience is something that gives humans a leg up and is reassuring to me that there are limits to the role of AI in the workforce. But, who knows were we will be five or ten years from now...SkyNet could be online at that point. ;)
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/6/2017 | 3:28:24 PM
Re: sci-fi answer
It's amazing how far we've come, but comforting we're still a bit far from anything like Skynet. 

Always remember, Skynet is Genisys.
MikeP688
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MikeP688,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/6/2017 | 4:24:57 PM
Re: sci-fi answer
Although I'd like to share your optimis @Michelle, not when such is before us though:

https://futurism.com/artificially-intelligent-lawyer-ross-hired-first-official-law-firm/
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/6/2017 | 4:26:45 PM
Re: sci-fi answer
I didn't know about the robot lawyer... we are in for an interesting future.
MikeP688
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MikeP688,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/6/2017 | 4:31:38 PM
Re: sci-fi answer
Interesting is an understatement.     How we create the future is the ultimate challenge before us.
bosco_pcs
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bosco_pcs,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/6/2017 | 2:59:04 PM
Why Do We Want to Outrun AI?
Call me idealistic or even silly, the idea of progress is to free us (human or even other species) from our bondage. So if AI can do the chores for us, why do we have the compulsion to outrun it? 

I mean, ask yourself, don't you lament that you don't have enough time to do the things you love because you need to work? So if AI can help to improve productivity to such an extent all needs (not wants) can be satisfied, we are free to do the things we love. If you still like to code or tinker, do that. If not, pick up painting or writing or whatever. 

Your real enemy is not AI or machines but crazy people who control them, people who have insatiable desires to hoard or control other people. In light of that rationale, job is merely a footnote
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/6/2017 | 3:53:43 PM
Re: Why Do We Want to Outrun AI?
And we'll all have plenty of time to plant those money trees that will allow us to pursue leisure activities to our heart's content.
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/6/2017 | 4:30:11 PM
Re: Why Do We Want to Outrun AI?
Will we ride around in floating recliners too? 
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
2/6/2017 | 11:58:33 PM
Re: Why Do We Want to Outrun AI?
I'm concerned that AI will lead to a different, and more harsh, bondage. Not to the machines, but to powerful people who will use them to consolidate their power. 
bosco_pcs
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bosco_pcs,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/7/2017 | 6:01:00 AM
Re: Why Do We Want to Outrun AI?
Mitch, 

This is a fair concern, that AI is used by powerful people to control the masses.

Guess what, irrespective of one's political philosophy, one cannot deny the fact that Robert Mercer has Cambridge Analytica. Peter Thiel, Palantir. And Putin? Outsiders don't even know what he has. To name a few.

Before the Terminator series, there is a 1970 movie called "Colossus: The Forbin Project," based on D.F. Jones's 1966 novel, in it the U.S. and Russian supercomputers were merged,  became sentient and ended up controling the nuclear arsenal. Now we can update it with IoTs and Clouds. I suppose old is new again. B.F. Skinner's Beyond Freedom and Dignity anyone?

 
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/7/2017 | 10:22:25 AM
Re: Why Do We Want to Outrun AI?
It can be argued that masses without some control is anarchy, which tends to be purposelessly disruptive and unpleasant. The issue comes down to who (or in the case of AI, what) does the controlling.
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/7/2017 | 10:25:50 AM
Re: Why Do We Want to Outrun AI?
For most people on the planet, dictatorship by machine would be an upgrade.
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
2/7/2017 | 11:51:20 AM
Re: Why Do We Want to Outrun AI?
Like they said in "The Matrix," most people would rather live in the Matrix. 

I certainly would. I don't look good in a felt tunic. 
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/7/2017 | 4:00:16 AM
Can't...?
> "Artificial intelligence (AI) still can't tell us whether AI will take all the jobs. AI can do a lot of things, but it still can't do that."

Maybe it can, but it won't...  ;)
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/7/2017 | 10:23:31 AM
Re: Can't...?
Yes -- the machines will let us know what our place is when it's time.
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