Will AI Enhance or Replace us Humans?

Artificial Intelligence is about to change the world. While smart assistants have already conquered our smartphones – they are about to conquer our workplace as well.

The worldwide leading companies are investing heavily in AI technology. AI will not only be extremely helpful tools for humans they are also going to assist them in their daily office life. Someday they might replace humans at nearly all jobs. But how likely is this going to be?

Companies Invest Heavily in AI

No matter which company you have a closer look at, Adobe Sensei, IBM Watson, or Salesforce Einstein. All offer their own first AI and Machine Learning powered applications to enhance the way we work. Thanks to deep learning the AI can now learn from massive amounts of data which is collected when using certain services or programs. As a result, AI’s at work will be faster and more efficient at doing certain tasks than humans. And experts agreed that AI will – to some extent – cut millions of jobs worldwide.

Blue Collar to White Collar

So far, the focus of AI automation has been on blue collar jobs. The loudest conversations are held about self-driving cars and trucks taking the jobs of taxi and truck drivers. But AI robots will replace not only drivers but many other blue collar jobs as well. And if you ask me, this might actually be a good thing. As I wrote in an earlier blog the jobs which are going to be replaced are actually hated. Why not paying all blue collar workers a basic income instead of forcing them to do jobs they absolutely hate?

In the recent weeks, however, I am participating in a case challenge by Accenture in Germany. As a result, I read up about Accenture’s point of view. Accenture and numerous other experts and companies have a quite cautious opinion when it comes to the statement of “AI’s will replace all jobs”. The more conservative camp is underlining that the AI will support and enhance white-collar jobs rather than replacing them. But is this even realistic?

I don’t think that this statement is going to stay true in the long-term. Sure, in the short-term and over a limited time frame the AI will definitely simplify our work lives. But why should AI not replace white collar jobs as well? What is holding it back?

I completely agree with all experts who say that the best outcomes will be as part of a joint AI-human partnership. But this partnership will only make sense for an extremely limited number of jobs and tasks. Creative work may be enhanced by AI. But why do you need a human doing finance calculations in controlling when 100% of it can be automated by deploying AI? In the long-term I see more jobs getting lost than created through AI. The question we actually need to ask is how many new jobs will be created in perspective to jobs getting lost? What is this ratio?

White collar jobs will definitely be replaced by AI – the truth is that this statement is hard to sell to politicians and labor unions.

Politicians have to calculate the ratio of job-loss versus job-gain due to AI. If the most cautious prognosis will show a remarkable unemployment rate – due to the deployment of AI – companies need to take some responsibility and governments need to experiment with various forms of basic income for everyone.

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