David, in the Hollywood movie A.I—which is by far one of the best movies on the subject of artificial intelligence, is a robot that has been programmed to love. The cute robot loves everybody and wants to be loved. His unflinching love to mankind is a direct result of software codes. The situation, in 2016, is slightly changed.
Now a director would plot a movie which will have an army of robots that works 3 times more efficiently than humans and takes away their jobs. It creates strife in the society. This puts men against machines in a direct confrontation with people.
It seems to be a reality sometime in a near future because of fast paced development in the field of artificial intelligence.These machines can perform tasks that requires reasoning, judgment, and perception –which was possible only for humans earlier. This has posed a direct threat to employment. The threat is even more in the U.S. Shaunak Das, IIT Bombay alumnus and artificial intelligence entrepreneur, who recently sold DudeGenie, AI based start-up, to Yatra.com, told XING Magazine, “Currently US economy is gradually becoming an autonomous economy due to AI. Kiva bots has automated the whole process of warehousing and distribution for Amazon. AI is primarily targeting the middle-class jobs as ROI (Return of Investment) for automating low end jobs is not that much high. As a result, it is widening the income gap between tech-savvy and everyone else.”
The number of smartphones has already overtaken the number of people and it has encouraged companies to develop artificial intelligence technology even more. “There are about six billion mobile phones in the world,” said Gillion Tett, Managing editor, Financial Times at the World Economic forum 2015. “
90 percent of the world population will have phones by 2020. Three billion people are already on the internet.” All of this will have repercussions for America and the rest of the world.
“There are estimates that within 10-12 years, 45 percent of the jobs in America will be replaced by digital machines.” she said.
Artificial intelligence and automation lead to a net employment impact of more than 5.1 million jobs lost to disruptive labour market changes over the period 2015–2020, with a total loss of 7.1 million jobs— two thirds of which are concentrated in the Office and Administrative job family—and a total gain of 2 million jobs, in several smaller job families, said the latest World Economic Forum report.
“Technologies that are in the pipeline, that are coming out the next decade, are even more remarkable than what we’ve seen that are already having these big effects over the past decade,” said Erik Brynjolfsson, director, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.
“We haven’t seen anything yet in terms of impact of technology in terms of jobs and income. The need of the hour is to bring in an institutional change in terms of education to match up with the upcoming developments in the technology.”
However, many experts pose the threat of automation on productivity as baseless. According to a Stanford Report, there are several industries that are chasing automation aggressively without reducing overall employment.
In the U.S. banking, for example, because the increased productivity resulting from automation has been accompanied by a relatively even higher demand for bank services, employment grew by 50 per cent between 1970 and 1980 (Ernest, 1982).
On the other hand, however, it has been also noted that most of the jobs in the banking industry involve ‘‘knowledge work” of one sort or another–i.e., the very category that is succumbing most rapidly to automation by AI techniques. In fact, the Bank of America recently announced that it is now seeking to reduce its employment levels significantly.
Talking about the banking industry further, Ashwini Anand Pillutla, director & co-founder at Monsoon Fintech, in an Economic Times news report said, “Banks and financial institutions are slowly being challenged by intelligent systems in developed markets e.g. Kreditech & Kabbage which use such systems to make lending decisions based on a variety of data points ranging from the social media footprint of a borrower to his credit history.”
As of now, they tend to target individuals or businesses with limited credit history or sub-optimal credit scores. Conventional lenders simply cannot accurately assess the creditworthiness of these borrowers.
“Retail industry in US has already got affected due to AI. Majority of humans employed by this industry has the task of smiling at customers and invites them into store,” Shaunak adds.
“Once they get inside, the whole process has already been automated. From manufacturing, warehousing, distribution to self-checkout kiosks in retail stores, everything has become ‘ more efficient’ and ‘optimized’.
Now AI is starting to automate industry that doesn’t have intelligence or creativity involved. Indian BPO industry will be the first to face the heat. Tax preparers, telemarketers, and medical secretaries, legal aids are some of the workers whose work will be automated first.”
“Automation has taken a lot of jobs away and it will take even more,” Ashwini told XING Magazine “In late 80s and early 90s, computers were introduced. They were used for maintain records and thousand other things and they cost a lot of jobs. But just as it cost a lot of jobs of clerks and record keepers, they also created a lot of jobs. But that’s not likely to happen now.” Shaunak says:“The first machine age- Industrial revolution – may have destroyed the livelihood of many…
“History has taught us that human labour has the ability to adapt to technological changes. Vast majority of humans working in agricultural sectors were reskilled to work in factories, then only that transition was possible. In order to adapt to next AI revolution, people have to take it to upon themselves to aggressively learn new skills to keep up with the demand.” Artificial Intelligence has not affected India as of now, but has a huge potential to do so soon.
Indian BPO industry boom was credited to cheap labor costs and huge talent of English speaking professionals. Primarily its use cases are customer support, telemarketing, online research, data entry and processing. All these tasks have higher probability of automated first, given recent developments in NLP and GPUs.
“It is not affecting India too seriously right now,” said Ashwini. “To start off with, you are starting to see a dent in hiring because of automation. Right now it maybe 10 to 20 percent hiring coming down. So it’s not very big right now.”