The Fear Of AI Taking Over Jobs And Why History Says It's Not A Big Deal

AI is coming for all of us. Will it be the end of the world though? 06.07.24

photo of robots working

What Is AI Anxiety?

AI anxiety refers to the apprehension, fear, or concern individuals may experience regarding artificial intelligence and its implications. The number one being job replacements. Is AI going to take my job and leave me out on the streets?

What History Says About Your Fear of AI

First off, everyone is entitled to their feelings. Those feelings of fear are totally valid no matter what the case might be. I've always hated being told that I'm overreacting because I can't change who I am, it's embedded in my DNA. I can find ways to manage it, but don't tell me that I'm not entitled to feel a certain way. This article is meant to put a little light at the end of the tunnel and say "It's going to be all right".

This isn’t our first rodeo, nor will it be our last. Periods of massive technological advancement have come before us and will seemingly come again. The Industrial Revolution was the first major change in how we as humans produced goods. The fear that machines would take over entirely was widespread. What did this mean for certain industries? Would the need for human workers become obsolete? Things would definitely be different, but not in the bad way perceived. The technological changes would actually do the opposite of what was feared most.

Industrial Revolutions Vs The AI Revolution

The Industrial Revolution actually created an increase in employment opportunities. And not only that, the wages one could make at a factory were higher than those of the farmers. Factories started to pop up across the country which then created management roles on top of the additional employees. It became the snowball effect.

photo of robots working in office
People migrated towards the cities for the work, the need for housing naturally increased which in turn helped with city planning and the overall infrastructure. Again, not the same industry, but yet again more jobs were created for a new need (housing). This is all of course over a longer stretch of time. The near term had some disadvantages like pollution, child labor, and food shortages.

AI will take care of the autonomous jobs and provide room for growth in more creative and critical thinking jobs. It won’t take away the need for design, quality control, and management. Tesla unveiled today they will be showcasing their RoboTaxi for the first time come August. Just because the cars will drive themselves doesn’t mean there won’t be a need for servicing, customer support, and management.

a robo-taxi driving on the street

We Prefer Social Interactions

LLMs (Large Language Models) are already in need of people to help train them. We have to remember AI can’t just learn on it’s own, it needs to be taught, it needs data input. It depends on it. You can’t expect a chatbot to just know how to reply and what to tell you, it needs to learn this over time. There is the position of engaging with the chatbots themselves as a form of employment. But if I'm going to be totally honest, when is the last time you preferred to talk to a chatbot instead of an actual person?

The chatbot can suggest solutions and point you to an answer, but 9/10 times that answer is probably going to come up short. You get on the phone with a representative and the issue usually can be resolved in minutes. I've spent hours trying to navigate through the links provided by a chatbot. Do I believe that companies will try and shift to using more chatbots instead of humans? Yes. Do I believe that ultimately there will be a push back from humanity? Yes. Why? Because we are social creatures by nature. As humans we crave social interactions. If the entire world shifts over to using bots surely we will be living a much more deprived life.

Computers Cannot Make Assumptions

A good Show on HULU called Murder at the End of the World showcases how the logic behind AI still has a ways to go. From learning how to code I have come to understand that literally every little step in a process needs to be spelled out for the computer. The computer does not have common sense, it can’t make assumptions. Everything must be defined otherwise things can go awry real quickly. I won't spoil the series but I will say the show does a good job of representing this concept.

The Bottom Line

There are many benefits to AI. Among the list are reduction of human error, handling repetitive tasks, processing big data, digital assistance, improvement of taskflows, and quicker decision making. AI is good for a lot of things but ultimately human creativity is irreplaceable. Hopefully artificial intelligence will make way for a more enjoyable life. It has the power to rid our lives of the tedious boring tasks. Sure it will be a big change in how we function as a society, but in the near term there really isn't much to worry about.

So go back to sleep, AI hasn't taken over the world yet.

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