The Machines are Coming - Too Late, They’re Already Here………
There is no doubt that AI has radically changed our world and will continue to make life easier with its potential to complete mundane tasks through automation and increase productivity in the process. However, is humanity as we know it at risk and is there an ever growing threat to more jobs falling at the hands of AI? It’s a real possibility in truth.
Most will recall the film iRobot featuring Will Smith, a robot called Sonny and an artificial intelligence computer called VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) where humanoid robots serve humanity protected by the three laws of robotics. So what exactly is AI? It’s the simulation of human intelligence by machines like computers. AI comes in two forms: narrow (weak) AI and general (strong) AI. The former includes ‘narrow’ tasks like only internet searches or only driving a car, hence it is very specific. General AI, however, is where, for me, it gets slightly more worrying. Although narrow AI outperforms a human nearly every time in relation to specific tasks, the long-term vision of most AI development companies is to create general (strong) AI which will outperform humans nearly every time when performing every cognitive task. If that thought isn’t scary enough, read on.
A study produced by Oxford University found that in the next 10 years almost 45% of all current jobs will vanish due to the rise of AI with some jobs being completely automated or at least ‘upgraded’ to a point where only a small amount of workers will be required. This isn’t to scaremonger, but the work vista seems very certain to change and maybe it’s time to start planning your exit strategy or at very least an alternative.
Recently an insurance firm in Japan made 34 employees redundant replacing them with an AI system that can calculate payouts to policy holders and improve productivity by 30%. Fukoku Mutual Life believes that it will see a return on its investment of IBM’s Watson Explorer AI within two years. If you are Japanese look away now because a report in 2015 suggested that nearly half of all jobs in Japan could be performed by robots by 2035 (Source: Nomura Research Institute).
So let’s take a look below at a number of jobs in danger of disappearing due to the rise in AI.
1. Financial Market Traders
An area I find affinity with having worked in the Forex markets for over ten years. During that time I have witnessed the rise of the machines and according to JP Morgan, only 10% of stock picking these days is down to regular stock picking. Computer formulas and trading by machines are now dominating equity markets and even Marvelstone Private Investment Group has launched Asia’s first ever Robo Advisor for family offices with everything being actionable via an app on a smartphone. The main driver seems to be due to cost reduction and ease of use.
Cashiers come in many forms from the bank to the supermarket and as annoying as the machine cashiers are, we have to get used to the fact that they are here to stay and we are almost near to total human intervention take over. Get used to the computer generated cry, ‘please wait for assistance,’ and ‘please replace item in the bagging area,’ because as much as we all dislike them, they generally work and are exceptionally cost affective. For example, Amazon has been running a pilot scheme called Amazon Go which involves a corner store and zero human intervention. You rock up, grab your items, pay and you’re on your way. At least the AI cashier can get through a 24/7 shift without brining its baggage into work and you’ll be able to avoid any attitude from a human cashier.
This is an area of concern in truth. If you are a driver of any of the following, be prepared to be out of a job in the not too distant future: Taxi driver, bus driver, Uber driver, delivery driver and truck driver. You are ALL on the verge of automation. Out of 14 million people employed in the trucking industry in the US, 10 million are drivers. These will be the people that will find themselves out of a job fist of all. Why? Because an automated truck doesn’t need to stop for a rest and adhere to legislation of ‘rest. It is also super attentive to the road 24/7 and you want to know the scary thing? They already have the technology. This is also being backed by the government in Germany and you know that innovative car company called Tesla? Well, the next generation of their cars will be 100% automated. In the not too distant future catching a ride will be like jumping in an elevator. Hit your destination and then you arrive. If you find yourself in this category then you need to reinvent yourself and quickly.
Whatever category of dispatchers you find yourself within hear the warning because they already have the technology. Still feeling confident that you’re safe? Think back to the days when you had to call someone to order a cab. How is it done today when ordering that Uber by the majority of society? That’s right. Once the algorithms are developed and find their way into your area of dispatching, your job is on it’s last legs.
5. Military Personnel
Gone are the days of the big push and riding into battle on horseback. Today these kind of military tactics would be preposterous to consider. However, with the development of drones, missile guided technology and goodness only knows what else the army of various nations have up their sleeves, there is going to be a distinct reduction in the need for human personnel. A machine can hit a target far more accurately than any human can and form miles away with the operator safely positioned far from the danger zone. Even when there is the need to send in troops rarely is it a full on, mass numbers assault. It is far more likely to be a special opts unit, SAS type assault involving the best of the best who are called upon when there’s no other tech to carry out the job.
Below is a list of other jobs set to vanish over time. There’s no need to go into too much detail as to why these jobs are set to disappear, as you get the general idea how AI is gradually taking over and you can always looking into this subject for yourself.
8. Travel agents;
9. Fast Food Workers; and finally……
10. Construction Workers
I’m not sure how many people work in construction around the world, but you’d think that the majority of these individuals would be safe given that we seem to keep building, what with developing countries looking to expand and develop their infrastructures. Wrong! As technology becomes more advanced it also becomes more efficient and affordable. Think back to our 34 Japanese friends working for the insurance company who lost their jobs due to AI being able to do things quicker, more efficiently and in a cost effective way. There is absolutely no difference here in the construction world. AI is AI and once an algorithm is developed to replace a human and reduce cost in a safe way, jobs will be reduced. Make no mistake about it. Developers now need more machines and a more specialised work force to use this machinery to build. Therefore, if you are not one of these ‘specialised’ individuals or a machine (wink), then you run the risk of needing to look for an alternative profession in the future.
This isn’t a prophecy, but rather a topic of conversation and I invite you to add to this list. However, there is a realistic possibility that a great number of these jobs will either be reduced or completely disappear in the not too distant future. Many people have families who rely upon them to provide an income to support their home environment, children’s education and general existence. If you find yourself working in one of these professions you’d do well to think about an alternative sooner rather than later where you are not at the mercy of yet another algorithm lurking around the corner which will threaten your livelihood and future security.
By Richard Kennedy