Depending on whom you're listening to, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is either a threat that will turn on its creators or is the saviour of humankind in the years to come. As with most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle of these two options - AI is a technology that will act within its capacity to perform the functions that it is given. Even within the group of people who don't believe that AI will turn violent, many consider AI, with its potential to do repetitive or time-intensive work swiftly and accurately, as a threat to the global job market. If robots do the jobs of humans, what will humans do, they ask. The answer to that is simple - they will do the other jobs that robots can't.
In the last decade or so, swift advances in Machine Learning and Deep Learning technologies have led to AI making a quantum leap in its capacity to perform functions. AI can now decode natural language, translate in real-time, and even engage in limited conversation with human beings. It won't be long before it is capable of passing the Turing test absolutely. The increasing capacity of AI to learn and make decisions added to its existing abilities to work without rest and error-free would make it an ideal choice for doing the kind of manual labour that many are still are engaged in doing today.
What AI has shown little or no capacity to engage in thus far is creativity and innovation. It is unlikely to develop a sense of humour and probably would require centuries of development before it can approach the concept of thinking laterally and outside the box. AI will be much better suited to replace human beings in mass manufacturing, bringing greater synergy and efficiency into that domain than before. Doing so would lower the costs of manufactured goods, increase consumption, and raise the profits of such companies. This would increase these companies' productivity, and make them need more humans in marketing. Which is why certain research firms have indicated that AI will create more jobs than it eliminates, stating that by 2020, AI will generate 2.3 million jobs worldwide.
A survey of 1,000 global organisations which deployed AI-based systems found that 80% of the surveyed firms had added more jobs, while two-thirds of the respondents indicated that there had been no reduction in jobs attributable to AI. For the most part, AI is being used to enhance and enable human employees to remove redundant mechanical and record-keeping aspects of their work, freeing them up and enabling them to be more productive.
The spike in demand for AI-proficient programmers is all the more remarkable because there is a dearth of qualified candidates capable of taking up these positions. According to a leading job portal, there is currently a ratio of 2.3 available roles for every suitable candidate. Applications of AI would also create a massive pool of opportunities.
Even in other industries, AI will create greater productivity that would enhance employment, not curtail it. There will be a greater need for humans who specialise in abstract thinking, creative tasks, and problem-solving, which will lead to job growth in these areas.
While these new jobs will be more lucrative than the ones that AI will take up, they will require substantial reskilling of the existing workforce. Hence, in the field of AI, it is important to focus more on improving the skills of the workforce, than be worried about the growing technology.
We should actively ask how we can make ourselves more productive and less mechanical in our work, and find ways to add problem-solving and analytical skills. Picking up AI programming would be a great choice, as this is easier to learn than one would imagine. So, what are you waiting for?
(The author is managing director - India, Udacity)
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Bengaluru: JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy on Friday said Congress has not consulted his party about bringing a no-confidence motion against Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa-led BJP government in Karnataka and expressed doubts over the seriousness behind such a move.
The former Chief Minister even suggested that it could well be for publicity.
"Till this moment Congress leaders have not discussed with us about the no-confidence motion. When it comes before us we will decide,"he told reporters in response to a question on supporting the no-confidence motion against the government.
Asked whether JD(S) has confidence in this government, he said, enjoying the confidence of the people was more important than that of his party.
"I don't know how serious they (Congress) are about it (no-confidence motion). If they were serious about moving a no-confidence motion, they would have discussed it with us earlier itself. Whether they have done it for publicity or they really want to move a no-confidence in this given situation, I'm not aware," he added.
Kumaraswamy felt the atmosphere was not suitable for such an exercise, given the flood related issues, COVID-19 pandemic and the financial situation.
"In such a difficult situation, every public representative has to fulfil their responsibility. I say this to both the ruling and opposition side," he said.
Signalling another political bout, a notice by opposition Congress, expressing no-confidence in the Yediyurappa-led government was admitted by Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri on Thursday.
The no-confidence motion and discussion in this regard is likely to be taken up on Saturday.
The ruling BJP has termed the Congress' move as a "political gimmick" and said the opposition party lacks numbers.
With the numbers on its side posing no threat to the stability of the government because of this no-confidence motion, the Congress may use the debate to point out alleged failures of the government.
In the 225-member assembly, the ruling BJP has 116 members, Congress 67, JD(S) 33, BSP and nominated 1, independents 2, and Speaker (he has a casting vote).
Four seats-- Sira, Basavakalyan, RR Nagar and Maski are vacant.