The substitution of basic human functions by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning is an eventuality that some people regard as ‘inevitable’. In fact, AI and other programs arising from technological advancements are already being used to implement monotonous tasks with complete elimination of human involvement. AI brings benefits of efficiency and reduces costs which makes it an attractive alternative. Proofreading, receptionists, and book-keeping are a few of the many employment sectors where AI has replaced human functionality.
Recently, a China-based e-commerce platform, Pinduoduo, organized a smart agriculture competition between traditional methods of farming and automation technology. The latter came out on top in growing strawberries. There were a total of four technology teams who used data analysis, intelligent sensors, and greenhouse automation to grow the strawberries. The result? The strawberries grown by the teams using the aforementioned technology were almost three times more in volume than those grown using traditional methods. In fact, the technology teams yielded a better average return on investment as well.
In another instance, a Chinese news agency Xinhua introduced an AI-based virtual avatar as an anchor. The avatar uses machine learning to mimic the voice and image of a human presenter, thus giving a very realistic effect.
Benefits of Integration of Artificial Intelligence
The evolution of Artificial Intelligence, simply put, has made the lives of people more comfortable. The benefits of automation and smart decision making have had a powerful impact in several business fields. However, what is often overlooked is the development in the working capacity of the humans that artificial intelligence brings about. Let us discuss a few ways in which AI has augmented the human working capacity.
- Increase in efficiency – It goes without being said that AI has a tremendous impact on how effectively a task is done. According to many experts, the biggest advantage of AI is saving humans from carrying out repetitive tasks. This helps us focus on other complex activities that require their attention. A good example would be how AI helps in sorting and filtering out a number of resumes in a recruitment process.
- AI helps in creating job opportunities – Yes, you read that right. Contrary to the popular argument that AI would put people out of jobs, there have been evolutions of job opportunities that one could not have imagined 15 years ago. Many people are finding job opportunities in fields such as social media, and a lot of this can be attributed to AI. The optimistic outlook is simple, the number of jobs AI would create is more than the number of jobs it would take away.
According to a report by the World Economic Forum: “Machines and algorithms in the workplace are expected to create 133 million new roles, but cause 75 million jobs to be displaced by 2022”. Thus, Artificial Intelligence could lead to the creation of a net of 58 million jobs by 2022.
- AI helps us do our jobs better – AI not only helps in performing repetitive tasks but also helps humans in performing their jobs in an easier manner. For instance, AI helps a salesperson in selecting prospects, sending emails, and other tasks that would have otherwise diverted their focus from selling a product, thereby decreasing productivity. Thus integration of AI with any human job helps in finding creative solutions to problems.
AI and Human Complementarity
One of the major questions that arise in a discussion about the future of AI is whether AI could potentially be a perfect substitute or a certain degree of human involvement is required to increase efficiency.
A major hindrance in the usage of AI is that its scope is limited. The essence of using AI is it does what it is programmed to do, neither more nor less. AI cannot deviate from the set of instructions programmed into it, making it incapable of being creative. This is one of the major reasons why to date AI has been primarily used in fields that are more or less monotonous and do not require consciousness.
Many companies that are heavily investing in Artificial Intelligence recognize that their most cost-cutting and effective solutions lie in human and machine complementarity.
Amazon, for instance, has employed about 100,000 robots to move things around from one place to another, thus saving a lot of time and energy for the warehouse employees. It has also increased the number of warehouse employees by about 80,000 whose responsibilities are picking and packaging things. The result is a seamless flow and movement of around half a million packages in the warehouse. This is a perfect example of how machine and human complementarity helps in doing a task efficiently and effectively.
In another example, a popular American rental marketplace, Airbnb, has developed an AI system that would enable product development by merely taking ideas from the drawing board created by the designers and making a physical prototype from them. Thus the human artistic efforts are translated and improved by AI for usability and scaling.
The most notable point in the above cases is that these machines based on Artificial Intelligence add tremendous value to the company which carries out its activities in a faster, cheaper, and an efficient manner.
AI – The future
Just like computers made a revolutionary emergence a few decades ago, AI is emerging to pave humanity’s way towards newer and better roles. The use of Artificial Intelligence would without a doubt make our lives convenient and comfortable and will also push humans to improve their skill sets.
However, in contrast to popular belief, the complete substitution of Artificial Intelligence is a highly unlikely scenario. Man, the creator of machines will be responsible for the regulation, running, and usage of these machines. Be it any field, a combination of human workers and machines will only make all the operations more productive and effective.