There’s no getting around it – millions of American jobs are destined to be taken over by automation and artificial intelligence. Though it may sound like a nightmare scenario for throngs of American workers, overall, it should lead to some positive outcomes. Sure, businesses will be able to increase profit margins by lowering labor costs, but as we’ve seen time and time again, new technologies and automation also opens up new avenues for economic growth; just think about how cars replaced horses and buggies (destroying some jobs, but creating millions more), and how the internet once scared everyone to death, but has led to millions of jobs being created.
Yes, there’s reason for concern on an individual level, but the truth is, automation will lead to growth and new opportunity. Artificial intelligence will soon take on the more menial tasks in the economy – as we’re already seeing, in some respects – leaving people to shoulder more intense, highly skilled work. It’ll likely take a generation or two for everything to sort itself out, however.
Getting from here to there will be tricky, and some wide-scale societal changes are likely to occur. That may mean instituting a universal basic income, or something similar. We just don’t know how it’s going to pan out yet.
In the meantime, we can only watch and wait to see what happens. And root for robots to take on some responsibilities faster than others. There are some jobs that are seemingly perfect for the cold, lifeless hands of robots and artificial intelligence (A.I.), whether we’ve realized it or not. When a human touch isn’t needed – and some calculation and logic, free from emotion is – you’ll be glad a robot is in control.
Need some examples? Here are five.
1. Sports officiating
How many times have you found yourself jumping around your living room, hands in the air, screaming at a referee or official for costing your team the game with a bad call – or, at least what you perceive to be a bad call? It happens, and officials are only human, meaning that they’re prone to making mistakes. That’s exactly why robots would be better referees than humans. When it comes down to cold calculation and judgment on the sports field, who better to make the call than a robot?
If an A.I. could take every single inch of a field or playing surface into account, have the rule book deeply ingrained in its robotic psyche, and be specially designed to make the correct calls for a given game, gone would be the days of refs making awful calls. And so would the days of blaming the officials when your team loses.
We don’t want any more situations like this, do we?
We’re already seeing A.I. take to the streets with technology from Google, and autopilot tech being sold in certain vehicles from Tesla and others. We’re probably not too far off from seeing a massive hand off of all driving – including trucks, trains, and planes – over to A.I. This will displace a lot of workers, but will also have numerous positive benefits. Traffic should ease up, auto accidents should drop, and fuel efficiency will be maximized. With every robotic driver talking to every other robotic driver, there shouldn’t be any issues with road rage, left-lane campers, or box-blockers.
We’ll all be much safer and more efficient as soon as people are out from behind the wheel.
It’s clear there’s a big problem with corruption in our elected offices. People have weaknesses, and for the right price, can be bought. That might mean passing laws that pertain only to special interests, at the expense of the general population. It’s the human being’s proclivity toward food, sex, money, and power that make us vulnerable to making decisions we wouldn’t otherwise.
But robots aren’t as easily corruptible. Put a bag full of money in front of an A.I., and it wouldn’t know what to do with it. Instead, it would make decisions based on rational, logical processes. It can’t be tempted with women, men, or fancy vacations. Lobbyists would be furious. Of course, there would need to be some serious oversight into the design and maintenance of our robot legislators, but it’s hard to think they would make worse decisions than the people we elect now.
This is another area where we’re already seeing A.I. in action. Robots are perfect for military use, especially when the goal is to keep human casualties to a minimum. We’re using A.I. to fly planes and drones already, and it’s only a matter of time before we see them actually deployed on the battlefield as well. They might be used as cannon fodder, or in more specific areas, like bomb detection and destruction. Either way, we’re looking at wide-scale military adoption of A.I. in the near future.
Just hope they have their targeting parameters locked in on the right enemy.
5. Wall Street regulation
In the same vein as sports referees and legislators, A.I. and robots would be ideal to regulate certain industries – like high finance, and Wall Street. After the financial crisis, lots of wrongdoing was found to have been done, but no one was punished. Former Attorney General Eric Holder didn’t prosecute anyone, despite overwhelming evidence, and before the crisis, former Fed chair Alan Greenspan refused to rein in rogue behavior. It was a mess.
But the robots, with their pulseless, calculating judgment, probably would’ve done what was needed without bothering with human emotions. That goes for all the other scandals as well – LIBOR, HSBC’s working with drug cartels, etc. We need someone who can drop the hammer when it’s needed. And since human regulators have shown hesitation, perhaps we should give the created a chance.