Industry News Details

Artificial intelligence is a threat to human job security Posted on : Feb 22 - 2017

Humankind continues to advance technologically, and while those advances come with many benefits, they also come with many drawbacks. Most people neglect to realize these drawbacks when they hear the terms “robot” or “artificial intelligence” (AI). One of the scariest and most forthcoming drawbacks is the inevitable loss of jobs for human beings. In the United States, this has only been seen in factories and assembly lines thus far, but that could change very soon.

When people think of robots working jobs, they normally think of unskilled labor. They think of industrial occupations. Since robotic labor is usually cheaper and far more efficient than human labor, it is obvious why corporations are willing to adopt the strategy. Recently, Amazon has built upon this, taking jobs from cashiers in the form of Amazon GO, which allows customers with Amazon accounts to simply walk into an establishment, take the goods that they’d like and walk out. They are charged through the app on their phone. While this seems far more convenient than waiting in line, its very existence is detrimental to millions of Americans.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3.5 million Americans work as cashiers and 4.6 million more Americans work in retail sales. That is approximately 6 percent of all U.S. employment. All of these jobs could be negatively affected by services such as Amazon GO. Is convenience worth the mass unemployment of these workers? Some say yes, some say no and some say that it doesn’t matter because there really is no stopping this movement.

Another response to this argument is that these robots are only affecting manual labor jobs. According to a CNN Money article, that may no longer be here. The article cites a Bank of America study that states “by [2025] nearly half of all U.S. jobs will be at high risk of being lost to computers.” Half of the country could be at risk for unemployment by as early as 2025. That is only eight years away, and that is terrifying.

If this change is as inevitable as it seems to be, then we need to find a way to at least slow it down. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, came forward a few days ago with his idea – not to stop the movement, but to possibly slow it down by form of tax. According to The Washington Times, Gates said, “right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed. [...] If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.”

Gates said that this federal tax on companies that use AI rather than human labor is a much better alternative to banning them because it allows for job-funding elsewhere. If we tax these companies for using robotic labor, then we can use the money to better train workers in areas that will still rely on human labor in the future. That is what is most important when it comes to this topic — better preparing for this inevitable future.

This tax is a temporary fix, but it does not solve the problem. Unfortunately, that may be the best that the American people are going to get. Over the next few decades, many countries will see rapid unemployment. This tax on companies using AI may be the only thing the government can do to slow this down for the time being. Finding other means of slowing down this process must be a top priority to conserve American jobs, because once those jobs are lost, they are lost permanently. Source