Hardly a day goes by any more without a new article pondering the threat of AI and how it will cause a huge rise in unemployment as more and more jobs can be done by computers instead of people.
Drivers are the latest potential victims, as driverless cars start to become the norm, and car accidents are drastically reduced by having a computer behind the wheel instead of an ‘intelligent’ ape, there will be no more need for human drivers, and they will all have to find another way to earn a living.
It’s not just manual jobs like driving and factory work that could be at risk. Anything involving data could eventually be done by a powerful enough computer, for example accounting or software development. (You could argue that consciousness is just a matter of data processing so in theory there’s nothing a human can do that a sufficiently advanced machine couldn’t, but that’s a different subject).
In my job of customer support, we are already starting to use automated software which can answer users’ questions before they even contact us. Currently it only deals with around 6% of user questions, but how long before it can answer everything, and humans are no longer required for customer support?
So what will we do when the robots take our jobs? There are some that envisage a kind of utopia where AI solves world poverty and frees humankind to indulge in whatever creative pursuits we want to spend our time on. That’s a nice idea, but seems a bit over optimistic.
However, I do think that the only jobs left for humans in future may be the more creative jobs that only a human can do (although as mentioned, that is debatable). Maybe when almost everything is produced by AI, there will be a much higher demand for art, music and literature created by humans.
Nobody really knows how things will progress but I know that if I was still in school now, I would definitely be leaning more towards a creative career path rather than an academic one. And while this concern is not one of the reasons that I draw and paint, it is kind of comforting to know that I have something to fall back on the day a robot steals my job!