Everyone is saying AI is coming for our jobs, and it’s coming fast.
Will AI replace humans and create an inevitable worldwide unemployment crisis?
Humans are good at surviving and excelling in the real world . . . aren’t they?
When hunting and gathering were our only requirements, the development of agriculture didn’t mean the end of life as we knew it.
We adapted and evolved.
The industrial revolution didn’t result in unemployment armageddon. Instead, humans created more jobs and reinvented themselves with the help of new technologies.
The advent of the Internet and the knowledge economy didn’t permanently put us out of work, either.
Instead, each of these innovations made us more productive with elimination of very few job categories.
Technology and innovation makes our lives easier and helps us do our jobs better.
That’s what AI has in store for us. It makes us more efficient — in effect, superhuman.
#1. AI frees us from repetitive tasks
There are too many repetitive tasks in our jobs.
For example, take recruitment. A recruiter’s job is to find talent for organizations. This role involves personal interaction so the recruiter can build relationships with clients and candidates.
What they spend way too much time doing is sorting through resumes (often hundreds or thousands), searching through job sites, scheduling interviews, making phone calls, and sending emails.
AI can easily handle repetitive recruiting tasks, and it can highlight the best candidates — those with the greatest chance of success in a particular organization. That frees up the recruiter to take care of what’s really important, like developing relationships with top candidates and getting them into the best jobs.
That’s win-win situation.
#2. AI isn’t smart enough to do creative work
AI can plow through a million psychology textbooks in a fraction of a second, then tell you all symptoms of and treatments for depression. But only a human can read a face and instantly know the right thing to say.
This is emotional intelligence, which AI simply doesn’t do. And it never will. Our nimbleness to react instantly in very creative ways is unmatched by any computer.
The auto suggest feature on your smartphone uses AI to predict the next word you want to type. It helps you type your message faster, but it can’t fully take over and chat with a colleague by feeling, understanding and appropriately reacting to human emotions.
Even Google Duplex that has got people scared is designed to operate in very specific use cases such as hair salon booking, restaurant reservations, and holiday hours.
AI will only work — and learn — within a given set of constrained parameters, unless singularity is achieved.
Google’s AI search algorithm has transformed the research process. You no longer need to crawl through dusty libraries or know the dewey decimal system. Google crawlers and algorithms deliver what you need with uncanny accuracy. You get all the best query results through Google’s ranking system, without any delays for thought or clumsy boolean query strings.
AI makes us more effective and more efficient. It gives us back the time we need to do creative work, including reviewing our search results and assimilating the information.
#3. AI allows us to be better at our jobs by making us more human
Take sales, for instance. Selling is an art that takes incredible finesse to do well. It’s the marketer’s most basic directive and it’s an inherently human function.
Salespeople waste time qualifying prospects, sending follow-up emails, and updating client relationship management (CRM) software instead of being dedicated to human interaction and rapport-building. Those with a natural knack for selling might be able to keep up, but the rest of your team isn’t going to be as productive as they should be.
When you add AI to the equation, the job gets easier and your sales force gets stronger because now they have time to study and learn from your high performers.
AI takes care of unproductive overhead so salespeople can focus on essential tasks like listening and asking questions, empathizing with prospects, and finding creative solutions to problems.
When we’re freed from menial work, the world slows down around us. We have more time to strategize, relate with clients, and optimize our processes to increase productivity and get a greater return on investment.
#4. AI creates new industries and jobs
Who could have predicted that a breed of converted Facebook junkies called social media marketers would create a $31 billion industry leveraging social media?
Social media jobs were non-existent 10 years ago. Today, social media managers are earning six figures, on par with the best technology workers.
Let me tell you a story from the eighteenth century, when the Spinning Jenny was invented.
Workers in the spinning profession were terrified of losing their jobs. The Spinning Jenny reduced the amount of work required to spin thread, which led to a fall in the price of textiles.
The cotton spinning workforce was so afraid of losing their jobs that they broke into the inventor’s house and smashed his machines. Today we have cheap, mass-produced cloth because of the foundation that was laid by the Spinning Jenny — and, contrary to what the workers feared, the affordable thread resulted in uses that expanded the industry even more.
Considering the improved lifestyle we’ve experienced since this technological disruption, shouldn’t we be similarly excited about AI? Expanding productivity will cause industry to flourish in ways we can’t even imagine.
Here’s what’s AI is already doing:
- AI software is improving elder care as demographic trends overwhelm the care industry.
- AI-enabled robots are taking over menial and monotonous tasks.
- It’s leading to more efficient money management, applying the best investment strategies.
- It’s serving and protecting citizens by enabling effective and unbiased law enforcement.
New devices and new technologies will give birth to new industries and jobs, some that are unfathomable today.
#5. AI can’t solve healthcare’s major problems
You’ve probably seen the Black Panther movie, where Vibranium powered AI solutions are so common that a gunshot to the spine takes only a day to heal. So you might think AI will provide a cure for AIDS next year. Well, that’s just fantasy.
There are highly intelligent AI systems like IBM’s Watson that can memorize a bazillion ailments and recommend treatments. But it will be decades before AI finds a cure for cancer or old age, because it lacks the creativity and spontaneity that sparks human genius.
We won’t have instant discoveries in healthcare or major world problems just because of AI. Trials, experiments, peer review, and many million lines of code stand in the way. That’s all done by humans. And progress will be slow.
But what AI will do is accelerate the process significantly. With artificial intelligence, extremely detailed models and simulations of human cells and other physiological components are possible. These models will boost experiments to the next level and save years of research.
AI will help us work faster, eliminate impractical solutions, and narrow the pool of promising alternatives. We’ll be able to reduce death rates and prolong human life.
Artificial intelligence: what does the future hold?
One of the most interesting things about AI is that, unlike static code, it is programmed to learn. That means it can evolve all by itself. A lot of commentators predict that sometime in the very near future, AI will achieve singularity.
At the stage of singularity, AI will become smarter than humans. It might even be able to think, essentially evolving into a new species. If this fiction steps out of sci-fi movies and becomes reality, the human race will face a challenge. Ethicists constantly debate what to do about it.
None of that changes the benefits of the explosive AI innovation going on in Silicon Valley and across the globe.
IBM’s Watson has tried its hand at several careers, including professional sports scout and medical diagnostician. But, most famously, Watson is a Jeopardy! winner and chess champion. Each of these scenarios was a narrow construction that allowed Watson’s brute force computing power to demonstrate expertise.
There’s even AI tech that handles complex problems in financial services. One Hong Kong company appointed an algorithm as its director. AI bots have also made an appearance in the literary industry, creating interesting work in poetry and prose.
Not to fear — we can sit back comfortably and look forward to a future where humans and AI work together to solve the world’s problems in real time.
Artificial intelligence: legal implications and IP protection
AI is a disruptive innovation and isn’t limited to the tech and business sectors. Businesses are getting savvy to the fact that a lot of tricky situations are ahead, especially concerning the legal implications of artificial intelligence.
AI pioneers need to protect their intellectual property.
Regulation has become a big issue, especially after incidents like the recent fatal accident in Arizona involving an self-driving Uber car. The laws revolve around driver fault, but how do you prove fault when no human is driving the car? Lawmakers are already working to push through legislation to regulate self-driving vehicles, while at the same time trying not to squelch innovation.
Issues with IP protection are especially close to home for CEOs and senior executives of companies that design and develop artificial intelligence systems. Today’s tech race is competitive, and intellectual property is its most valuable commodity. The smartphone industry, for example, has shown us that the interval between innovation discovery and its appropriation by competitors can be as short as a few months, in part because so many AI developments are open source.
Businesses need to have a patent strategy to protect their innovations if they want to maintain market dominance — or evolve to become a dominant player in their markets — with AI development getting so much attention.
Executives can no longer afford to scrape by with minimal knowledge of IP protection while disruptive technology is continually developed and protected. Focused IP protection strategies need to be unboxed and implemented even before an innovation is market-ready. It’s the only way to stay ahead of the wave AI investment.
Patents, copyrights and trademarks offer legal protection. But it can be difficult to determine which type provides the best protection for each AI businesses investment.
The big question is: How is your company differentiating yourself with your technology? Is your innovation new source code, improved technical functionality, a strong brand, or something completely different?
Startups often leverage open-source software (OSS), without the burden of legacy systems, in order to quickly develop AI innovations. OSS licenses differ in their implications on IP protection strategies.
Some licenses let you protect your innovation with patents, but restrict you from enforcing them. Most prevent you from excluding other startups or established companies from using the source code you develop on top of the OSS.
Even after you’ve decided on a form of protection, seeing it through can present serious challenges. Obtaining a patent in the US typically takes anywhere from 3 to 5 years. While the patent will protect the innovation for up to 20 years, any advantage the company has may be lost while they’re waiting for the patent to go through. Three years is an eternity in Silicon Valley! That’s where fast-tracking your patent can speed the patent office’s decision to a year or less.
The process for obtaining a patent can be confusing and can potentially take years to complete. A landmark decision by the US Supreme Court in 2014 puts a big question mark on the possibility that AI solutions can be patented. That’s because the court doesn’t regard ‘abstract ideas’ like ‘disembodied algorithms and formulas’ as patent-eligible.
In addition, the very real question of ownership of original works will emerge in the near future when AI helps with innovation. A photographer was recently sued by animal rights activists who claimed that the copyright in a selfie taken on his camera by a monkey belongs to the monkey, not to him. The future patent tussle won’t be between humans and monkeys, but between humans and AI.
Current AI practices teach bots to evolve through machine learning. This means they can evolve to the point that they’ll produce output radically different from their source code and, in some cases, even rewrite their own code. When that happens, who will own the copyright, the code writer or the bot? What if the improvement is patentable?
The best way to tackle these legal and IP issues is to approach a legal strategist early in the innovation process. An expert can help you develop a robust strategy for protecting your company’s intellectual property.
Businesses, including startups, can’t afford to delay any longer. The first to file for a patent will own that innovation.
Trends predict that dominance in AI will be determined not by who can innovate fastest, but who can protect their IP first.
Artificial intelligence may eliminate some jobs but it will also create new ones, and work that is done by humans will be more thoughtful, rewarding and fulfilling. AI will make us beyond human — in effect, superhuman.
We’ll march on and evolve because that’s what we do. And we’re good at it.