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How Artificial Intelligence Affects Jobs Free Essay

Introduction

The extremely rapid development of technologies is a characteristic of the modern world. Artificial intelligence is one of the technological spheres that highly determine the contemporary economic and social world order. The idea that human work can be performed by machines and robots is not new, but it seems that only now its implementation is very close to being realized. The reason is that artificial intelligence is constructed to possess the intellectual capacities of an individual. The main problem is the effect of such an implementation if to take into account that the progress of technologies cannot be stopped. It raises the question of the advantages and disadvantages of the development of artificial intelligence as the possible intelligent servant of mankind. Employment is considered one of the domains where artificial intelligence can exert a great impact on society; therefore, the increasing involvement of artificial intelligence in work life and the deepening of its cooperation with humans may lead to improvement of productivity and negative outcomes for low-skilled employees.

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Technological Advances

Human progress can be viewed through the prism of technological development. In general, it serves to overcome limitations, free life from hard work as well as make it more comfortable and save. The technology aims to help people to transform nature for their own needs. The Industrial Revolution is one of the most significant events of the beginning of human progress based on the major technological innovations. Similarly to the effect of the steam engine’s invention, which assists to remove human physical limitations, nowadays the “ability to use our brains to understand and shape our environment” is the way to go “beyond previous limitation” (Brynjolfsson and McAfee 8). Since the 18th century, different kinds of machines have been massively used in factories to perform hard physical work instead of the labor force. At present, the progress of digital technologies is another step toward the liberalization of humans from hard and routine work. The achievements of the technologies are evidenced by the fact that artificial intelligence and computers are capable of “diagnosing disease, listening and speaking to us, writing high-quality prose, robots started scurrying around warehouses and driving cars” (Brynjolfsson and McAfee 8-9). It does mean that using artificial intelligence as an intelligent assistant is the way of contemporary technological development and removal of people’s constraints. Despite the challenges of technological progress, its central aim is to make human life comfortable and free from unnecessary hard work.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

One of the most important achievements of technological advancement is the invention and development of artificial intelligence. The very idea of artificial intelligence is based on the statement that human intellectual capacities can be recreated on artificial devices. Thus, there are two main approaches to the realization of this project. The first one is known as weak artificial intelligence, under which “any system that exhibits intelligence behavior is an example of AI” (Lucci and Kopec 12). However, it does mean that any artifact, device, or program, which performs intelligence tasks is artificial intelligence. By contrast, as maintained by the second approach that advocates for strong artificial intelligence, intelligent behavior should be based “upon the same methodologies used by humans” (Lucci and Kopec 12). The major distinction between them is that strong artificial intelligence can be realized only as a complete copy of humans with both consciousness and intelligence, while weak artificial intelligence is actually implemented in the form of different projects and programs (such as Siri, Alex or Watson) by imitation of some separate aspects of intelligence only. In this way, the goal of strong artificial intelligence is difficult to be achieved, while weak artificial intelligence serves humans as an intelligent assistant. Hence, the difference between these two approaches to the recreation of individuals on an artificial device lies in the level of desirable imitation. Nowadays, weak artificial intelligence is a reality, and it is used as an instrument to help people perform any kind of intelligent task.

How It Affects Jobs in the Near Future?

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The process of automatization and computerization of work has a great impact on employment transformation. As the McKinsey Global Institute’s Report about the near future of employment shows, “by 2030 from 75 million to 375 million workers (3-14 percent of the global workforce) will need to switch occupational categories” (Manyika et al.). Undoubtedly, technological progress has always caused serious changes in the sphere of employment, but nowadays this challenge seems to be much more significant. It does not mean that automatization and computerization of work will replace all the people in their workplaces. On the one hand, technology creates “large employment and sector shift” (Manyika et al.), but on the other hand, new job opportunities have been presented.

In this way, technology is developing rapidly and the problem lies in the workers’ ability to adapt to this new reality. Nevertheless, there is the category of work activities, which have high technical transformation potential and will be automatized shortly. Thus, predictable physical work, collecting and processing data are at the top of this list, because now computers and artificial intelligence can do it better, faster, and cheaper than human workers (Manyika et al.). In this respect, technology is changing the world enhancing the need to gain higher education and improve one’s proficiency; meanwhile, those skills, which are to be automatized seem to be the proper way of adaptation to the new reality of work life. The McKinsey Report about the future of employment till 2030 shows that almost 15 percent of the global workforce will be obliged to find another occupation because of automatization and computerization. This challenge appears to be very serious, and a lot of workers should rapidly adjust to these changes.

Counterargument: Can It Impact All Jobs?

The problem of the impact of computers and artificial intelligence on the future of employment is closely connected with the perspective of their development. Machines in factories were able to perform routine tasks only, while artificial intelligence is not limited to these activities. In this respect, Frey and Osborne claim, “computerization is no longer confined to routine tasks” because now artificial intelligence can fulfill non-routine missions where “big data becomes available” (Frey and Osborne 261). Thus, weak artificial intelligence has a big potential and remarkable ability to cope with different intelligent assignments. Moreover, such work activities as collecting and processing data are exposed to the high risk of technical automation potential as a result of the increased possibilities of artificial intelligence. Provided that artificial intelligence can undertake any logical and computational tasks better than humans, the main danger to the future of human employment is related to this fact. In such a way, Frey and Osborne’s research justifies this idea, as long as they predict that “47 percent of total US employment is in the high risk”, especially such domains as “transportation, logistics occupations, the bulk of office and administrative support workers, and labor in production occupations” (270). It does not mean that artificial intelligence can replace all human workers and perform any duties. Moreover, the development of artificial intelligence has revealed that it is realized as weak artificial intelligence and can be used only as a human assistant, who can be helpful as a data collector and an analyzer, but not as an independent intelligent creature. Besides, there are spheres and missions, which artificial intelligence is not able to fulfil, because it is hard to create algorithms of a solution of such issues and to program them on the computer. For example, the activities require “social and emotional skills, creativity, high-level cognitive capabilities (Manyika 5). In this way, weak artificial intelligence is implemented to help people cope with some kind of intelligent tasks and to serve them as an assistant. Nowadays, the potential of artificial intelligence is not enough to replace all human workers, because there are non-algorithmic activities, which cannot be carried out by artificial intelligence.

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Counterargument: Can It Do Better than Humans?

Weak artificial intelligence shows the possibility to perform intellectual tasks better and faster than humans. First of all, it is related to the technologies of artificial neural network developments and the process of their in-depth research. The application of these technologies in IBM’s computer Watson has brought great results. Hence, Watson can provide cancer treatment diagnosis with “the highest probability of success” (Fray and Osborne 263). The reason for such a success is based on its ability to analyze an enormous amount of information such as 600,000 medical reports, 1,5 million patient records, and 2 million pages of information from medical journals (Fray and Osborne 262). Consequently, the diagnosis of the disease, which is made on the grounds of detailed study and operation of a significant information volume, is precise. Besides, it seems that no doctor is not able to memorize or even deal with such a huge quantity of data. On the one hand, it appears that even weak artificial intelligence can do some jobs better than humans. On the other hand, artificial intelligence is not able to replace people, because it realizes only a small part of intelligence, while humans possess it wholly. Thus, if artificial intelligence replaces some workers, it will not be able to substitute all of them. This fact leads to the conclusion that cooperation between individuals and artificial intelligence at the workplace can be extremely productive. The comparison of possibilities of humans and artificial intelligence shows that in some intellectual tasks, namely collection and analysis of data, artificial intelligence prevails over human intelligence, but in other cases, in particular creativity and non-algorithmic tasks, it does not have the upper hand.

Examples: Warehouse Workers (Amazon)

A bright example of cooperation between humans and machines is the Amazon Company, which implements new technologies to increase the productivity of its warehouses. As long as Amazon is a service that delivers goods to customers in all corners of the world, the development of coordination of warehouses is crucial for the corporation. In such a way, the organization has started to use robots and machines, which assist human workers. By the principle of work of innovative technologies, to bring the necessary products “the shelves themselves glide quickly across the floor” (Knight). This technology replaces the need for human workers, as instead, the moving shelves can quickly perform this task. Moreover, Amazon’s warehouses are coordinated with the company’s central computer systems, and the shelves can identify the product’s dimension and pack it in the right box. As Knight claims, several decades earlier, industrial robots were separated from human employees, but now “better computer chips, algorithms, sensors, and actuators, robots have become cheaper, safer, and better able to learn new tasks quickly” thereby helping to achieve greater benefits and increasing productivity of such coordination. Hence, the example of Amazon’s implementation of technologies shows the effectiveness of cooperation between people and robots at one workplace.

Examples: Can Baymax Happen?

Another example of efficient interaction between artificial intelligence and humans is the software Baymax. It is the application, which recognizes and helps those who suffer from depression. As Gupta et al. argue, it is a “companion and is capable of understanding people’s emotions” (197). Baymax serves as the analyzer of the level of one’s depression, and it advises to seek the assistance of psychotherapists when the level is recognized as high. The main idea is that such an artificial intelligence system could become an important part of diagnosis and caregiving in terms of mental health. The research shows that “76% of 525 respondents would be interested in using their mobile phone for self-management and self-monitoring of mental health” (Gupta et al. 198). This fact raises the question of the ability of weak artificial systems to adequately cope with the problem of mental health and the possible degree of discernment of human emotions. It seems that everything depends on the feasibility to algorithmize such an irrational part of human as his or her emotions. Moreover, only in collaboration with psychiatric treatment, this application can be effective. The argument that Baymax can reduce depression by only the fact that a user tends to share his/her own emotions and feelings with the machine does not seem to be impressive. In this way, Baymax as the artificial system, which can perceive human emotions and feelings, is rather utopian than real, but Baymax as the algorithm program that can help people with depression is more realistic in terms of artificial intelligence being able to understand the irrational human side.

Solution

In this regard, the problem of artificial intelligence’s influence on jobs is related to the question of its general potential to adequately accomplish intelligent tasks. Thus, artificial intelligence has its limitations, as in the contemporary world artificial intelligence is possible only in the form of weak artificial intelligence and in the role of a human assistant. Undoubtedly, on the one hand, shortly, the interaction between people and artificial intelligence is likely to grow thereby leading to increased work productivity. On the other hand, such technological progress has a drawback, because the replacement of humans by robots means that some categories of work will not be undertaken by individuals. In the light of the infeasibility to stop scientific and technological progress the only way is to adapt to it. Therefore, the professionals in those work domains where artificial intelligence will be incorporated should get better education and gain new skills, which will help them to get employment.

Conclusion

In summary, one may conclude that the idea that human work can be performed by artificial intelligence, robots, and machines seems to be on the verge of its realization. The question of its advantages and disadvantages is raised in the light of rapid development of artificial intelligence. Therefore, one of the main benefits is the fact that some kinds of work are more accomplished by machines than humans. On the one hand, the increase in productivity as a result of cooperation between humans and robots is obvious. Nevertheless, on the other hand, artificial intelligence is just an assistant, and it cannot replace people completely. Undoubtedly, technological progress is a great challenge for the future of human employment, because a considerable number of workers should be forced to change their occupations to adapt to this new social and economic reality. The possibility of adequate adaptation is the major problem, which can be solved only by providing opportunities to those, who will lose their jobs because of automatization and computerization processes.

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