As technology takes the wheel, should we feel pressured or emboldened by the accelerating growth of AI and robotics?
Nowadays, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer an unfamiliar notion to many aspects of modern life. From self-driving vehicles to AI doctors, it starts to expand into our life at such a forceful yet dynamic pace that human is undoubtedly not capable of keeping up with.
AI defeated doctors in Beijing
Last year in Beijing, selected physicians participated in a two-round competition with an AI named BioMind. The mission was to diagnose brain symptoms like brain tumors, bruises or brain hematomas through magnetic resonance images of human brain. It came as no surprise that the human physicians were defeated as the AI system not only completed 87% correct predictions among 225 cases, exceeding the result of 66% from a group of 15 doctors but also in half less amount of time (Wang, 2018).
Photo by Chen Zebing/China Daily
Would AI really take our job?
Meanwhile in the United States of America, blue collar workers in service sectors like health care, hospitality, retail and building services are being consumed by melancholy as automation is separating the labor force of America into two-tier system: highly intellectual professionals (mostly in Tech industry) making tremendous earnings versus workers who are making much less and at the same time, fear that they will lose their jobs in the hands of AI and robots.
The scenery of a world where robots do all the work while humans live off some yet-to-be-invented welfare program may remain as just an ambiguous idea of Silicon Valley. It’s not implausible nowadays to picture a world in which machines, equipped with the right tools, for instance, advanced speech recognition tool deal with customer complaints and even conduct entire conversations (Biedrzycki, 2019). In 2011, more than 59% participants of the CleverBot program, noted that CleverBot is an AI whose task was to answer the questions from its interviewers, were certain that they were dealing with a real human being (Biedrzycki, 2019). AI even intimidates a lot more people than robots as it owns the ability to self-learn and continuously improve itself.
The controversy lies in the fact that if AI really took over the most of human roles, lots of us would miss human empathy and understanding as AI might never possess human traits including unpredictability, illogic and emotion. Looking on the bright side, AI can totally be an excellent tool in supporting society in a vast majority of sectors.
AI assists human, not replacing us
Earlier in this decade we have witnessed how AI reshaped internet services and produced driver-less cars, currently AI is rapidly moving forward to the healthcare sector. A group of scientists in China has recently tested a system that they built to diagnose common childhood conditions from influenza to meningitis. The system with AI element in it produced highly accurate diagnosis after examining patient’s symptoms, history, lab results and other infirmary data. According to researchers, it would be the norm for AI to assist doctors in diagnosis of complex or rare conditions in near future.
Ever heard of neural network – a breed of artificial intelligence involved in the development of almost everything from health care to driver-less cars to military applications? Dr. Kang Zhang – ophthalmic genetics chief at the University of California, San Diego has applied this technology to build a system that can analyse eye scans (Metz, 2019). This system screens patients’ eyes and then reports symptoms on patients who need further attention. The system can spot-check many symptoms of hemorrhages, lesions or other diabetic blindness to make sure the doctors didn’t miss any possibility (Metz, 2019).
In Silicon Valley, Google is also developing and testing systems that can analyse electronic health records with attempt to notice medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart failure. These deep learning machines are also employed in researching and producing new medicine in many places nowadays all over the world.
Clearly, with the competence of recognizing a vast amount of patterns in data that humans could never identify on their own, these deep learning systems could totally be powerful tools for life quality improvement if utilize in the right situation. People who resent machines for taking their jobs may lack thorough understanding since machines and robotics actually create more professions, saving humans from heavy, repetitive work. It’s also worth mentioning that many sectors cannot function without the help from robotics as the work require high level of precision that human can never reach. In highly “robotized” countries like Japan, the US, South Korea the unemployment rate is actually relatively low (Redacción, 2019).
All in all, it is not the problem about automation perceived in a negative way due to the cutting of labor cost but more like the people who use technology will replace those who don’t. But again, is it that susceptible to blame if labor becomes a scarce commodity that only distributed to those who are willing to catch up with or could really everywhere in the world has the capability to insure a basic income level so that people who are left behind by the Tech wheel do not protest?
Redacción 2019, ‘The countries with the most robots per worker are those with the lowest unemployment rates’, The Economy Journal.com, accessed February 2019 from url: https://www.theeconomyjournal.eu/texto-diario/mostrar/606573/paises-tienen-robots-cada-trabajador-disfrutan-tasas-paro-bajas
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Porter, E 2019, ‘Tech is splitting the U.S. workforce in two’, The New York Times, accessed February 2019 from url: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/04/business/economy/productivity-inequality-wages.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FArtificial%20Intelligence