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Everyone is afraid of losing their job to robots. Will or does artificial intelligence cause mass unemployment?

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes it does. But maybe that'll be compensated by openings in the AI field. $\endgroup$ – DuttaA Jun 19 at 11:42
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The nuanced, boring answer is that it depends on your definition of AI. Most people wouldn't say that the rule-based systems designed in the 70's are AI. The amazing leaps in machine learning are almost taken for granted as well (think about how normal speech and facial recognition have become). This is known as the AI effect; when we become accustomed to the technology, it loses it's 'magical aspect' and is thus no longer labelled as AI.

Since AI is so diverse and difficult to define, the question becomes incredibly abstract. Did Siri cause all secretaries to become unemployed? Did TurboTax replace all accountants? Some parts of AI will affect jobs, or even make them redundant yes. On the other hand, it will give rise to new jobs as well. It is therefore impossible to generalize it as 'AI will cause massive unemployment'.

This is not a new phenomenon, however, it has been part of the human economy ever since the industrial revolution (probably even before that, but I am not a historian). The invention of the car crippled the horse-and-wagon industry, but it brought along new jobs as well.

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Up to a point. Some jobs will IMHO not easily be replaced by robots, others more easily. Some could be, but I hope common sense will prevail and stop that.

Manual jobs: fruit picking, warehouse picking, and cooking are some jobs that need really subtle hand control, and precise handling of fragile items. I think those will be harder to automate than eg car factory robots.

Customer facing roles: receptionists have to do a wide variety of tasks. While some of the tasks might be aided by AI systems, a good PA or receptionist cannot easily be replaced. Also, many people would much rather interact with a fellow human than with a machine, at least in some situations.

Judgments: a lot of jobs require judging a situation, balancing risks, and making 'gut' decisions. While AI systems can do them, I think many would still require human intervention. I for one wouldn't like to be sentenced by a robo-judge, or examined by a robo-doctor. True, humans also make mistakes, but they would hopefully err in less potentially disastrous ways.

Administration: again, many tasks can be assisted, which would lead to a reduction in head count, but a general AI is still off the horizon, so you'd still need humans.

Creative arts: not likely. Would you want to read computer-generated novels, or look at computer-generated paintings?

I could go on... in general: I think AI systems will make a lot of tasks faster and easier, so you need fewer people to do them. Some jobs cannot realistically be done by machines in the near-to-mid future, so overall we need not worry too much.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes. Just as the horse lost it's employment as the form of transportation to the car. $\endgroup$ – jehovahsays Jun 19 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ When the mechanical loom was invented, people were up in arms. Steam engine, etc. Every new invention makes people think there will be mass-unemployment. $\endgroup$ – Oliver Mason Jun 20 at 7:54
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Yes , but you should be happy about it. It is like usage of mashines in industry causes "mass unemployment". Modern tendencies is unfortinatly not like that - industry has not so bit interest in full automatisation cause of huge amout of cheap work force from immigrants - it is a bad factor, not that "ai takes your job". And further, robot what would take your job must not be realy smart - in could be just some doll without AI just making what is in programm...

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