China’s leading AI expert has warned that half of the current jobs are going to be taken over by QI within 15 years.
Lee is the computer scientist turned venture capitalist also once headed up Google in China, has over 30 years of experience in AI.
According to Kai-Fu Lee, the author of bestselling book ‘AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order’, the world of employment is facing a crisis ‘akin to that faced by farmers during the industrial revolution’.
Kai-Fu Lee’s Prediction
Lee believes that while automation has traditionally been the downfall of blue-collar workers, however in the age of AI white-collar jobs will be the first to go.
As research suggests, the pace in which artificial intelligence will replace jobs will only accelerate.
Kai-Fu Lee is of the opinion that, it is imperative to warn people that a ‘job apocalypse’ is coming and to inform them how they can start retraining. There will be an ‘AI crisis’ of job losses, wealth inequality and people’s sense of self-worth.
According to him, the solution will have to be incremental because there is increasing evidence that AI is eliminating many jobs it will be too late for governments to understand the issue. People are still blissfully ignorant about the effects AI will have on their jobs. AI is capable to take away many single-task and single-domain jobs. The governments thus will have to integrate AI into the economies in a more humanistic manner.
The Human Argument
While the general argument of human superiority is that humans have abilities which AI lacks. Humans are creative, they can conceptualize and strategize a given task according to its merits. Whereas today’s AI is just a really smart pattern recognized that can take in data optimize it and outrun humans at any given task. And by that value, how many jobs in the world are a simple repetition of tasks that can be optimized? And how many jobs require creativity, conceptualization and strategizing?
The answer is – most jobs are plainly repetitive in structure. For example, telemarketing, dishwashing, driving, assembly-line work, fruit picking and so on.
To be competitive, companies will be forced to automate. AI not only can do a better job, but it also does the job at an almost marginal cost.
Is There Hope?
However, not all hope is lost for humans.
To the degree that Lee states, the rise of AI and machines will allow humans to devote themselves to professions which require natural human qualities like love, compassion, and empathy. There will be a gradual decline of people employed as factory workers by the middle of this century. More people will be needed in elderly care, a job Lee believes cannot be performed by the robots. Similarly, even doctors will have a role reversal where they will no longer dispense diagnoses but will be repurposed to serve as workers whose interpersonal skills will matter more than their medical wisdom.
Nevertheless what cannot be avoided is the reality that AI is certainly coming for your jobs – if not now then in the near course of time. But the question is, are we ready for this transition?