How Dangerous Is AI, and Will It Really Take Your Job?
Artificial intelligence (AI), we’re told, will probably destroy humanity. Then again, those in the know tell us that it probably won’t. One thing AI will definitely do, though, is take our jobs, leaving a mass of unemployed, utterly useless individuals in its wake. Right?
The truth, though, is far more nuanced than some reports would have us believe.
There are currently 6.47 million unemployed people in the United States. Due to fierce competition, credential inflation, and companies becoming more selective, many of these people may find themselves unemployed for the foreseeable future. To compound matters, the jobless must also factor in another huge obstacle: AI-enabled machines and automation.
It’s natural to fear new technology. The printing press was met with shock and horror. So, too, were inventions such as the telephone, radio, and TV. But AI is nothing like these rather benign creations. It’s a completely different animal altogether, one that has the power to destroy countless professions, but also create a number of eye-opening opportunities. Some analysts warn that AI will alter the employment landscape permanently. According to researchers at Oxford University, AI poses a direct threat to 47 percent of U.S. jobs. ChatGPT and other AI chatbots have people worried, understandably so.
In the UK, over the next two decades, AI will leave at least 7 million people jobless, according to analysts at PwC. Considering the UK has a population of 67 million, 7 million is a huge number. At the same time, however, AI will create 7.2 million new jobs. The same is true in the United States. AI is predicted to create more jobs than it will destroy. This part is so often, either consciously or otherwise, omitted from the “AI will replace us” conversation.
Of course, whether or not people have the opportunity, time, or finances to upskill is an important issue that requires further consideration. Nevertheless, on the job front, AI is not as destructive as many might assume.
As John Hawksworth, PwC’s chief economist, rightly said, “Major new technologies, from steam engines to computers, displace some existing jobs but also generate large productivity gains,” adding that his team’s findings “suggests the same will be true of AI, robots and related technologies.” Just to note, the professions most at risk are ones that include rather repetitive actions, like data entry roles, telemarketing, and receptionist work.
Although AI won’t actually remove humans from the job equation, at least not in the immediate future, it does pose a different, arguably more ominous threat to individuals, especially those residing in the United States.
The (Further) Erosion of Privacy and Sanity
In 2014, Stephen Hawking grimly predicted that the development of full AI “could spell the end of the human race.” Whether or not Hawking’s ominous prophecy proves to be true in, say, three to four decades from now remains to be seen. But AI will certainly end the idea of privacy, if it even exists anymore.
An increasing number of federal agencies are using invasive facial recognition technology (FRT), with more planning to expand their use of FRT this year. The technology, which works by identifying and measuring specific facial features and storing the data as a faceprint, is powered by AI. Law enforcement agencies have, in recent times, turned to the technology in an effort to identify criminals. That’s problematic on many levels.
As a recent Axios report demonstrated, FRT is incredibly flawed. The report was published shortly after a black man was jailed in Georgia after FRT wrongly matched his face with a suspect in a New Orleans robbery. The man, who claimed to have never visited Louisiana in his life, was released after almost a week in detention.
This isn’t the first time the technology has resulted in the arrest of an innocent individual. As Wired reported last year, at least three prior false arrests occurred after officers used FRT. All three of those arrested were black men. The technology has a history of failing to accurately identify the faces of black people. Not only is FRT invasive, it also appears to be racist.
Besides powering FRT, AI also powers small flying devices that are now plaguing Americans. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a drone. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), more commonly known as drones, appear to be everywhere. From the world of agriculture to construction and mining, media and telecommunications to law enforcement, the demand for drones has never been higher. By 2025, the drone services market size is expected to be worth $63.6 billion.
In the United States, drones are already delivering pizza. Walmart also uses drones to deliver groceries. But, as the writer Zachary Mack recently highlighted, critics are concerned that these flying travesties are violating their privacy. Their concerns are most definitely warranted; these machines come with mounted cameras, meaning they capture footage of just about anything.
Moreover, drones are incredibly noisy. In Glendale, Arizona, residents in close proximity to a Walmart store, noted Mack, are fed up with the incessant noise, with one resident comparing the sound to “a hornet’s nest that’s been kicked up.” People might scoff at the remark, but the link between noise pollution and high blood pressure, as well as heart disease, sleep disturbances, and stress is undeniable.
AI might not rob you of your job, but it will play a key role in robbing you of your face and, if you happen to live near a Walmart, maybe even your sanity.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.