AI and Job Loss – An Alternative Outlook

AI is the ability of a computer to learn from the past and perform tasks and functions commonly associated with humans.


Destroy a job or create one, what will AI “decide”?

AI is here, and it has been for quite some time. It impacts our search results, and social media feed. Industrial and Scientific AI is already at work in mining and various industries around the world. Data indicates that the use of Artificial Intelligence in many sectors has grown by 270% over the last 4 years, and Forbes suggests that jobs requesting AI and machine learning skills are expected to increase by 71% over the next 5 years.

To gain an objective perspective on AI and employment, we need to look at historical shifts toward technology. We will cover the widespread implementation of AI and the effect it will likely have on labour throughout various industries. More so, we will be looking back in history to see how technology historically affected humanity and industries.

 Iron ore manufacturers also said that they will be using this type of technology for processing, and no longer coking coal. The technology also has the potential to be used in the mineral extraction processes on mines, alongside technologies such as scientific AI, IIOT, and others to further drive Anglo’s agenda of net-zero mining operations.

All considering the only possible downside to the environment is the water usage of 10 l/kg. Whether this figure is substantial or not probably depends on the climate of the area which is being mined. There is no doubt that this type of technology is desperately needed in this day and age, and with the Digital Transformation of mining, this water usage can soon be offset through the use of, for example, Process Optimization Apps in the Mining Industry and improved ore beneficiation processes.

The irony has to be commended though. The launch of this technology took place on a mine that produces the same mineral that is needed in the production and storage thereof.

A different AI – Augmented Intelligence

Technology and humans combined in the right way will drive prosperity.

Ulrich Spiesshofer

ex-CEO, ABB Ltd.

Artificial Intelligence is able to make better decisions, afford enhanced process control, and give much deeper understanding with increased capacity for generating reports and insights. However, humans will always be needed for their emotional capacity and soft skills. Another factor is generalized thinking, which is the human ability to decide where they want to apply their intelligence. On the contrary, AI can only be applied to what they were programmed to do, which is mostly singular tasks or applications. We will still be the ones making the final decisions, only now we will be able to make better, more informed decisions. So with the rise of AI and advanced process control comes the rise of a new type of AI – Enter the age of Augmented Intelligence, where both machines and humans will make decisions together, but where humans still decide how to apply the learnings, and exactly what an AI will be working on.

If you are a Luddite – Don’t be

Luddites destroying weaver

Luddites were workers in the textiles industry around 1811 who protested against automation. Their reasoning was that the unskilled workers that operated automated machines were robbing them of their jobs. The result was that Luddites attacked and burned factories.

Similarly, though less dramatic, in the 1980’s, the advent of personal computers caused “computerphobia”, and people feared that computers would be replacing them.

Opposites attract, so guess what happened… The opposite to popular belief happened, without exception. Even with people hindering the progress of the implementation of technology throughout history, it was inevitable, that technology won… every time, no matter how much it was fought. The fact is that no matter how challenging it is to implement new technology, the gains and benefits are so vast that industry leaders with ambition and foresight will always persist and drive the technology agenda. The latter people also realize how these adoptions (more so how early adopters) can empower people with higher skills, better pay, and more favorable working conditions.

Despite the fear and hesitation, these shifts toward technology created more jobs than they destroyed. When a particular task is automated, it becomes cheaper and faster. As a result, more people are needed for the tasks that haven’t been automated, and often, these are higher-ranking positions.

The countries with the highest robot density have among the lowest unemployment rates.

Ulrich Spiesshofer

ex-CEO, ABB Ltd.

If you have to begin somewhere, why not in the middle? The start is taken.

When looking at the past, it is very reasonable to conclude that concerns and fears around AI and automation are completely understandable but at the end of the day, unwarranted. Change in technology has always destroyed jobs BUT, always created more jobs than it replaced. Albeit under a different guise or title. The Wallstreet Journal writes that the jobs that will be replaced going forward are the physically tasking and the mind-numbing jobs, and the jobs that actually use our brains will remain. These are also the type of jobs that actually drive career advancement. Instead of starting your career where tradition dictates (right at the bottom, and feeding on scraps), it may then be possible to walk into your career and start working on the things that require the human touch.

Change is not the only constant Mr. Heraclitus sir, fear of change will constantly follow it, but as 90% of leading businesses are already investing in Artificial Intelligence, we humans are at another technology impasse and we need to decide whether to fight the inevitable or embrace the change and learn to learn together and form a different AI – Augmented Intelligence – where the primary focus is on improving every aspect of life, and where the key decisions will still be made by us.

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