AI, DL, AGI… What’s all that about? Why are some people so scared? We are all surrounded by Artificial Intelligence: your computer, your phone, even your calculator. Even easier is to recognise it on the so called IPA (no, I’m not talking about the beer invented by the British while colonizing India), the Intelligent Personal Assistants. Speech recognition, customization of results and all these new features have arrived to our lives to make them easier. In fact, they make it so easy it’s starting to be scary.
Deep Learning has allowed probably the biggest AI breakthrough earlier this year when AlphaGo — Google owned DeepMind’s Artificial Assistant — beat world champion Lee Sedol in 4 out of 5 Go games. It’s not the first time we see a machine beating a brilliant human mind, but in 2016 we’ve seen a great leap in AI development.
Although it’s currently a beta, Amazon announced 3 days ago its “Just Walk Out” technology with Amazon Go. It’s a “new kind of store with no checkout required” which will only be accessible to Amazon employees during its testing and will be the start of the greatest impact of Deep Learning on the non-qualified labor market of the decade.
The idea is very simple:
You enter the store, scan your Go app credentials, pick up the products you want to purchase and, once you are done, you “just walk out” the store. The products will be automatically charged to your account. No lines, no waits, no visible interaction. Pretty cool, huh? How exactly it will work is not too clear yet, but that’s the least of our worries in this matter. Let’s focus on what this truly means for the real world, and specially for unqualified workers working in sectors like retail. Cashiers will be replaced by sensors and electronic detectors, and millions of people will find themselves unable to compete with the cost savings and ease this technology offers — especially after the minimum wages increase being discussed (or already approved) in many states.
We’ve seen how automation has changed the way businesses cover certain tasks, and we have also seen the effects in the number of workers per business. But this new way of checkout could be a revolution on the way we buy, and the number of workers per store will be strongly reduced.
Throughout history we’ve seen lots of jobs disappear, and many more have been created due to the development of technologies, but in the last decades this ratio has been shifting and the proportions don’t look as promising. Same is about to happen in other sectors like transportation in which driverless cars will take over the roads. By 2040, 3/4 cars will be driverless and the amount of car owners will decrease to numbers never seen in decades.
We are on our way to a world in which Artificial Intelligence will be the main engine of every task and we’ll be shifting away from ownership in favor of relying on services. There’s a lot more to it than what I mentioned but the first concern for young people will be the work options for the future. Technology never stops developing and neither should we.
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