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Many science fiction movies have portrayed artificial intelligence (AI) as a harbinger of the demise of mankind. The first cinematic appearance of the AI was in 1927 in a German silent film “Metropolis”. Throughout the film, a human-like robot had the sole intention of devastating the entire city. Despite this initial negative description of AI, technology has accelerated the development of advanced artificial intelligence.
According to Forbes, “AI-focused companies raised $12 billion in 2017 alone.”
In August 2021, Elon Musk announced that he had an ambition to develop a humanoid robot called the Tesla Bot to eliminate everyday tasks and make bots available to the public by next year. He went as far to say that the Tesla Bot could displace the workforce and make physical labor a matter of choice. Twitter went through after hearing about Musk’s announcement, and many people made comparisons to “I, Robot,” “Terminator,” and other apocalyptic movies.
People tend to be cautious and fearful of new technology, as seen in the 19th century Luddite movement when artisans destroyed textile machines to protect their own jobs. The fear of AI seems to be widespread, as people are unsure of what AI is capable of and the consequences of implementation. The reality is that AI is already implemented in several parts of our daily lives; the introduction of the Tesla Bot is just a new way forward. The threat of AI might not be the climactic, action-packed threat that we see in films. Instead, it could be a reliance on AI that threatens to lull us into complacency.
Elon Musk admits that the development of the Tesla Bot will have far-reaching effects on the economy, an implication linked to all emerging AI technologies. Currently, most AI can only complete the tasks they are programmed for, and since this doesn’t require true reasoning, they deserve the name Narrow AI. The dream of AI is to overcome the limits of narrow AI and achieve a state of autonomy in which it can continuously adapt with all the capabilities of a human brain.
This uncontrollable and irreversible state would be revered as AI “singularity.” Daron Acemoglu, an Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that “firms that increase their AI adoption by 1 percent reduce their hiring by approximately 1 percent.”
As industries try to find more ways to implement artificial intelligence technologies, there will be more and more displacements of workers. Amazon’s implementation of AI into grocery stores demonstrates their ability to completely eradicate cashiers while creating a more efficient way to go grocery shopping.
Acemoglu writes, “Some economists think fears of automation and AI displacing workers are overblown. They argue that as work becomes more AI-automated, the resulting productivity gains will spearhead labor demand in other parts of the economy … even in the same firms doing AI-driven automation.”
The problem is the creation of AI itself: the economy of automation reduces the demand for labor with no hope of revitalization. Additionally, software developers GitHub and OpenAI recently launched an AI peer programmer named Copilot to provide coding suggestions based on what the programmer is doing. Even if the software is “still in the works” according to TechTalks, it will continue to be more reliable and efficient the more people use technology. The presentation of this particular AI shows that AI programming jobs AI can infiltrate any industry, and if AI is able to achieve uniqueness, even careers such as author or artist are threatened to be replaced.
Trying to avoid the rapid deployment of AI is next to impossible right now. Many countries around the world are competing with one another to dominate AI and create an environment in which these companies can grow and prosper. The development of AI is because it is revered as a strategic technology that could help countries gain a tactical advantage over other countries and strengthen governance. China is a great example of this as it has invested heavily in the AI industry at the same time it was implementing it in its infrastructure.
After China launched its three-tier program to become a global leader in AI by 2030, they planned to create a “$ 2.1 billion AI-focused technology research park,” according to Forbes. We can already see China using AI in military and smart cities: during the protests in Hong Kong, for example, the government introduced AI surveillance to identify citizens and then contain protests.
Due to the importance of AI for government agencies and many other industries, AI has established itself as an important success factor for startups. Trying to eradicate AI today would actually hinder the progress of society as a whole. With many threats, such as worker displacement, prejudice from on-board programmers, and the impact of AI on our political and economic system, the capabilities of an AI outweigh the risks. Its sheer speed of harnessing vast reserves of information and taking action could transform the way it depends on developers and users as a whole to protect the way AI is used, perhaps through laws or through the creation of an AI- Open source accessible to everyone. Then we could all also have access to a simple version of an AI that would also help our private lives.
One of the methods Elon Musk proposed to combat the displacement of workers would be the introduction of a universal basic income. With the introduction of a universal basic income, we could reduce the fight against structural unemployment and move on to a different social model: one that relies less on a capitalist working life and more on the humanities and the arts. Perhaps we could fuel a new renaissance by giving people more free time and less worries about their financial security. Allow him to control our lives or we could act before he gets too powerful and use the AI to benefit us as a society.