Economic Development News & Insight


The rise of the machine; Should we be worried?

/ December 16, 2014

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The rise of the machine; Should we be worried?

Ever since artificial intelligence reached the main stream, we have speculated constantly on the future of robots and their effect on humanity.  From movies like 2001: a Space Odyssey, I Robot, Interstellar, and the Terminator franchise, there is a constant theme that machines have the possibility to one day do incredible things for humanity, but also to one day destroy us.  The Arnold Schwarzenegger figure returning to wipe out the human race is a constant image, have we started something that will eventually bring about our downfall?

Of course I’m being incredibly dramatic here for effect.  As fascinating of a story line as it may be, we are not yet at a point where sentient robots have been put into existence.  However, this does not mean that our presently existing robots and artificial intelligence do not pose their own set of concerns.

Robots are becoming increasingly smarter and useful in today’s age, which has a direct impact on the workforce.  One of the trends that has the possibility to arise is that jobs that would go to humans will instead be completely handled by robots.  While robots are not capable of things such as common sense and emotion, the intelligence and the ability to achieve tasks instead of following a direction is creating difficulties.  Robots today are capable of so much, administering anesthesia, writing news articles, or even acting as an effective hotel bellhop.  Robots have gone from being a future fantasy on the screen to being something happening now.

With a workforce that is already difficult to break into, it appears that the rise of the robot is contributing to hiring difficulties for many people.  It is a trend that is likely to continue, with occupations such as pilots being predicted as the next to become fully automated.  Much of a regular commercial flight is already automated, and as robots continue to expand their knowledge, it is possible they could effectively take over the direction of an entire flight.  Many will claim that the rise of robots has created new jobs, which is partially true, as the technology sector has been rising in employment for years, with the rise of technology though, it seems that other workforce’s are set to reduce slightly.

The technology of today has left us at a crossroads.  In many cases, technology has given us the ability to be even more productive, assisting us instead of replacing.  The internet, word processing functions and GPS have all made many jobs easier. There is still a need for competent human operators, and technology and humanity seem to have currently established a solid working relationship.  There is a possibility that could change though, as robots continue to increase in ability while it has been noted that the American workforce has gained skills at a slower rate than in the past.  Many point the finger at technology as the reason why certain jobs are no longer available to them.

There is no surefire way to know what the future has in store when it comes to technology, as it seems even those in the tech industry are unsure of what sort of effects their work will have in the long term.  And while it is not something we need to remove completely from the world,  technology is surely worth keeping a watchful eye on for the foreseeable future.



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