In the Artificial Intelligence Bulletin – Will Robots Take Your Job we explore which jobs are most at risk from A.I. and what are some of the opportunities and issues that could arise.
If A.I. is going to decimate whole industries and jobs, what also does this mean for unions and how they should function?
This is an interesting time of year to think about this with Labour Day holiday approaching in Canada and the United States next week.
As the Age of AI Looms, What is the Future for Labour and Unions?
Rather than just looking at which jobs are under most threat, let’s consider what AI means for unions in this article by Christo Aivalis, a postdoctoral fellow in the history department at the University of Toronto.
In the article, Aivalis points out the history of the labour movement and how the story is still being told. The fear of technology taking away jobs is nothing new.
However, what is new is the ability of unions to play a role in ensuring the spoils from AI’s extra productivity and efficiency in the workplace should be more evenly distributed.
Up to now increased productivity has not led to a decrease in work hours. Something that is a holy grail of unions. In fact, working hours are increasing all over the Western world.
Aivalis points out that in 1872 Canadian workers demanded the work day be cut to 9 hours.
Technology was making them more productive but they were not working less hours.
Eventually, in the coming decades, they got their wish.
AI gives us the opportunity to demand something similar. As productivity increases so to should our desire and ability to reduce our work hours.
Aivalis hits the nail on the head with this:
“In our current capitalist system, the politics of automation are inherently adversarial, because while productivity increases and cost savings are consistently sought by owners, managers, and shareholders, the workers themselves don’t want to be displaced from the job that provides them their livelihood. Historically, many workers and socialists have acknowledged the immense social value automative processes have had in eliminating the most tedious and dangerous of jobs, meaning that we can shift our human resources in more productive and fulfilling directions. But automation driven primarily by profit motives serves to further concentrate power and wealth, making our society more unequal…”
– Christo Aivalis
This means that workers and unions are put in a position where they don’t want technology that improves productivity as it could cost them their jobs.
No wonder workers are fearful about artificial intelligence.
But what if we could redefine the relationship between workers, productivity, and automation?
Why can’t we use AI to foster a new democratic fairer way to compensate workers and include them in the profit-sharing?
How can governments help society create less private corporate enterprises only interested in profits and answering to shareholders?
In their place, should be more co-operatives and democratic organizations who help to foster the public good.
Overall, the article strikes the right tone but one worry is that when workers become fearful and jobs obsolete, this will lead to unions having less not more influence.
If people become desperate and more conflict arises from a basic supply and demand side of too many workers and not enough jobs, it’s hard to see how unions will stay powerful in some industries.
Read more at Macleans
Quotes worth pondering #1 – From a Q&A with Geoffrey Hinton
“It’s hard to predict beyond five years. I’m pretty confident it won’t happen in the next five years, and I’m fairly confident that it won’t be something I’m going to have to deal with. But it’s something people should definitely be thinking about. But the main thing shouldn’t be, how do we cripple this technology so it can’t be harmful, it should be, how do we improve our political system so people can’t use it for bad purposes?”
– Geoffrey Hinton, the ‘Godfather of Deep Learning’, works at University of Toronto & Google Brain.
Will Robots Take My Job?
Here we share a link to ‘Will Robots Take my Job?’. It’s an interesting exercise. Head over to that site, put in a job that you do or are interested in, and it gives you a probability score that automation will make it obsolete.
Not only that, it gives you all sorts of additional info.
Here are some examples – web developer (21%), hairdresser (11%), financial advisor (58%), dentist (0.44%).
15 Jobs That Will Disappear In The Next 20 Years Due To AI
“Boring and repetitive jobs will be taken over by algorithms”
But which 15 will be hit hardest? Watch this video to find out.
Top 16 Jobs Most Likely to Disappear in the Next 10 Years
- Drivers (taxi drivers, bus drivers, Uber drivers – ‘there are 10 million drivers in the US trucking industry alone’)
- Farmers (‘only 10 companies already control nearly every food and beverage brand in the world’)
- Printers & Publishers
- Cashiers (just look at Amazon Go and ‘walk out shopping’)
- Travel Agents
- Manufacturing Workers
- Waiting Tables & Bartenders
- Bank Tellers
- Military Pilots & Soldiers
- Fast Food Workers
- Accountants & Tax Preparers (‘there are 1.3 million registered accountants in the US’)
- Stock Traders
- Construction Workers (‘there are at least 200 million construction workers around the world’)
- Movie Stars
Quotes worth pondering #2
“The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.”
– Professor Warren Bennis, Pioneer of Leadership Studies
Thanks to AI, the Need for Humans to Work for Survival Could Soon be at an End
This is powerful stuff. It’s also the antidote to all the doom and gloom about labour, unions, and jobs detailed above.
We know there’s a huge problem looming.
We know it’s going to take monumental efforts to bring about solutions.
And yet, if we direct our efforts completely and overcome political and social barriers, we already know the answers, and can direct our actions accordingly.
In this case, it’s to do with jobs and AI… The future of work and how we get meaning in life.
Raddi asks us if AI means the death of all the boring, repetitive, and tedious jobs in the world, how can this be a bad thing?
It’s only a bad thing if we let it become bad.
It’s actually a huge opportunity to redistribute wealth and fairness so that everyone gets to share in the increased productivity.
Of course, providing food and shelter is vital to the health of people and their families.
However, if the jobs are obsolete and no longer needed by society, this is an opportunity for humans to focus on something better, and more worthwhile.
This article is implying the same.
We should use AI to revolutionize society and our relationship with work.
Let’s get rid of work that reduces us to mere cogs in a machine in a dehumanizing capitalist fashion.
We must work to live, not live to work, as the old saying goes.
“The global workforce has been reduced to an alienated, lonely precariat obsessed with hyperindividualism, a twisted modern spin on human creativity.”
One thing we must look at is a Universal Basic Income (UBI) that would enable people to pursue work without fear of being poverty-stricken.
We must also invest more in the welfare state and training of workers in relevant jobs.
“Automation and AI could allow us for the first time in history to imagine a world where work and survival are decoupled – where the assurance of a dignified existence allows everyone to focus on what they are most passionate about.”
Nikolas is a world-leading Futurist Speaker that drives leaders to take action in creating a better world for humanity. He promotes exponential thinking along with a critical, honest, and optimistic view that empowers you with knowledge to plan for today, tomorrow, and for the future.
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