Artificial Intelligence—its life changing potential and eye-opening dangers—is become a topic for all. No longer a concept for Silicon Valley and the technically trained, the initials AI have crossed into the realm of pop culture. They’ve begged the question, “will machines take over our world?”
AI is shaping the future of work in ways that we never expected. Futurists have long expected AI to handle low level tasks, but increasingly, AI is taking over tasks that used to require experts. AI algorithms are now better than oncologists at spotting cancer in CT scans. AI is also more accurate at recognizing objects in images and it is even starting to become more accurate at recognizing speech. At the same time, the AI is not the end-all-be-all of the working world. CT scans still need to be performed. Doctors still need to review the results and the algorithms still need to be trained and improved.
The future of work is a collaboration between a human and an AI. The AI doesn’t practice medicine, it helps the doctor to improve their practice. The AI doesn’t take every phone call, just the ones with easy answers.
Over the past twenty years, computers have allowed workers to increase per-hour productivity in dramatic ways. AI will feed this trend and accelerate it even further. This means each worker will contribute more to the economy creating a larger pie for everyone. Of course, this only happens if the regulatory environment helps to ensure that everyone benefits from these increases. Intellectual property, consolidation and monopoly can easily undermine the economic gains and further concentrate wealth at the top of the economy.
At the end of the day, AI is a tool just like every tool man has invented since the dawn of time. It will be used to improve productivity, create wealth and make our lives easier. We will all be richer, more productive and better at our jobs with AI collaborators.
Alyx works as a business analyst for Mycroft, working with data to shape metrics and the broader marketing strategy. She also writes these blog posts.