We’ve all heard the rumors: the robots are taking over! Or if not, they’re at least coming for our jobs! Stephen Hawking himself warned they could destroy humanity. While we’re not really in a position to contradict Hawking, we have to admit—we’re actually not too worried. After all, in a lot of ways, artificial intelligence is already here. And the way we see it so far, it’s actually helping humanity. Some even say the rise of AI could lead to increased creativity for humans. Sounds pretty good, right?
AI: The Stats
Yes, we’ve all seen the alarming news—AI will almost certainly eliminate the need for some jobs. But it’s best to read that information with a strong emphasis on the word some! Because while AI can do some of the work currently handled by humans, it’s a lot of the monotonous, repetitive work that machines have always been good at—now with enhanced data processing abilities.
While we can’t precisely say how many jobs AI may eliminate, the truth is, it will also create jobs and new opportunities. In fact, a recent study from Gartner Research says that AI will create even more jobs than it eliminates. The study estimates that although as many as 1.8 million jobs may be lost by the year 2020, 2.3 million new jobs will open up thanks to the new technologies headed our way. Change can be scary, but those numbers aren’t all bad news.
And this shift isn’t entirely the fault of AI. After all, technology has long been known for its ability to replace dangerous, dirty jobs. Take coal mining, for example. Work in coal mines has decreased, while at the same time, technology has led to new opportunities, and new careers, in sustainable energy. While mining communities have felt a painful shift here, the trend toward green energy is ultimately a positive one for the environment. With so many opportunities for change in labor and employment, it’s no wonder that some are calling AI’s rise the fourth industrial revolution.
AI: Helping Humans
Believe it or not, AI can also help look out for our health and safety. New technologies are finding ways to personalize targeted cancer treatments. An AI early warning system known as TREWScore can monitor diabetes and high blood pressure, and alert medical personnel when patients are developing sepsis. AI technology can help first responders locate victims of natural disasters, who’d be otherwise stranded indefinitely. And of course, AI is a huge driver (pun intended!) of the technology behind automobile guardian angel features, as well as self-driving cars.
But there are some things technology has yet to find a way to replicate. Things like problem solving, leadership, teamwork, initiative, and of course—creative thinking.
AI: Enhancing Creativity
That’s right—try as it might, AI can’t top humans when it comes to creativity and strategic thinking. Not that it hasn’t tried! Remember when IBM’s Watson released a cookbook, complete with a recipe for a chocolate burrito? (Its main components: ground beef, orange zest, chocolate apricot sauce, and a pureed edamame salsa.) And for a good laugh, check out the entirely AI-scripted (and entirely incoherent) short film Sunspring.
So creativity isn’t AI’s strong suit (or at least not the type that can be harnessed in any practical, or edible, manner!). But AI can contribute to an environment that fuels our creativity. How? Well, nothing hinders imaginative thought like busyness or tedium. In fact, studies show that carrying a burdensome mental load reduces creativity and originality. It turns out, our mortal human brains need downtime. And in the future, with AI handling the repetitive tasks that consume so much our time, humans could find themselves mentally freed up to engage in more creative pursuits.
And that’s important to note, because some experts theorize that as AI becomes more adept at accessing and analyzing large volumes of data, creativity and imagination will become a more important currency, especially when it comes to recruiting. That’s because as AI is unable to replace high-order levels of creativity, companies will need strategic, innovative thinkers more than ever. All that could add up to make creativity the most marketable skill in future workplaces.
Happily Ever After
We’re firm believers that humans and machines can peacefully coexist. Especially if each of us sticks to what we’re best at. For machines, that’s data, calculations, and computing; for humans, it’s creative, strategic thought. And while machines may take some jobs, the technology behind them also opens up future opportunities and career paths (as our team can tell you!).