There has been an underlying fear that machines will steal our jobs. In 1602, Queen Elizabeth 1 exerted the same fear when she denied Willian Lee, an inventor, a patent right for a knitting machine. “Thou aimest high, Master Lee. Consider thou what the invention could do to my poor subjects. It would assuredly bring to them ruin by depriving them of employment, thus making them beggars.” The Queen said to Lee. The lack of patent still did not ultimately stop factories from adopting the machine. Shortly after this, economists tried to expend the fear of AI by recommending a universal basic income, in which the government pays everyone a low salary to ease poverty.
A hundred years after that, many automated technologies have replaced knitting machines to compete for human jobs. There are arguments in favour of AI, claiming that an industry that saves money on labour through automation will either lower prices, which makes its products more appealing and creates an increased demand that may lead to the need for more workers or generate more profit or pay higher wages. These arguments state that these may lead to increased investment or increased consumption, which can also lead to more production, and thus, more employment. The shift from Agriculture to Oil in 1950 caused many people moving from rural areas to urbanisation to take up computer jobs.
Today, Artificial Intelligence handles insurance claims and basic bookkeeping, manages investment portfolios, does legal research, and performs basic HR tasks. Amazon offers a more modern example of this phenomena. The company has over the last three years increased the number of robots working in its warehouses from 1,400 to 45,000. Over the same period, the rate at which it hires workers hasn’t changed.
Many dramatically fear that human labour may not stand a chance against AI in the long run, especially as we are constantly being warned of the Rise of Robots, the End of Work and the Industries of the Future. Only humans with spectacular abilities and the owners of the robots will thrive.
Although, pro-AI did not conclude that machines will take all of our jobs; they believe automation will largely take over redundant and obsolete tasks like automatically scheduled calendar appointments or automated research services. Even CEOs will spend more time tutoring their team than analysing reports, if artificial intelligence can draw conclusions more efficiently. With the trend of automation, people who are not tied down by routine tasks will become more creative and wanting to do interesting new things and even maximise their potentials. Workers will move towards doing the next set of activities, making them more productive.
As Global Gross Domestic Product continues to decline, Artificial Intelligence can help employees improve faster and deliver efficiently on targets. Mckinsey analysis notes that although computers and internet—both mainstream tools for achieving productivity—may not be enough to sustain GDP but can raise global productivity by as much as 0.8% to 1.4% annually; only if employees keep working, efficiently.
With the lingering fear of AI replacing humans, and looming tendency of widespread unemployment due to technology invasion, the solution may be simple and merely involve a reframing of the issue at hand.While some organisations may be laying off workers and adopting AI to do the redundant tasks, government policies surrounding issues of labour will be far more effective if construed as the work of a system managing and providing relief for workers that may lose their jobs as technology evolves. Some analysts believe education programs for re-skilling workers, is expedient, making the workers qualified to take on new roles that have been identified in the wake of AI. For example, drivers who have been replaced by automated vehicles, may now be trained on how to monitor and supervise movement of these machines.
A handful of modern studies have noted that there’s often a positive relationship between new technology and increasing employment—in manufacturing firms, across all sectors, and specifically in firms that adopt computers. The rationale behind this is that as technology evolves, people are more intellectually challenged, providing basis for creativity and intellectual capabilities to thrive.