by: Colette Calapristi Casey
AI and Robots and Jobs oh my! The heat is on and Artificial Intelligence and subsequent melding of automation technologies has many people running for the hills with their hair on fire. By the year 2021, it is estimated that over 6% of US jobs will be replaced by automation in some form. This is a significant number and can place additional burden on global infrastructure and services.
“We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task,” said Moshe Vardi, director of the Institute for Information Technology at Rice University in Texas.
“By 2021 a disruptive tidal wave will begin. Solutions powered by AI/cognitive technology will displace jobs, with the biggest impact felt in transportation, logistics, customer service and consumer services,” said Brian Hopkins of Forrester Research.
To translate this, we are talking about uber cars without drivers, long-haul trucks that drive themselves, fast food counters manned by iPads and much more. Even basic call centers will be replaced by Natural Language Understanding (NLU) automation. NLU will be integrated into every aspect of your life allowing people to converse with technology easily and frequently. Whole industries will be disrupted by this shift and phones will fall away to wearables and personal assistants will become disembodied voices.
AI has a history of fear and endearment, the perfect human and the perfect human replacement. Over the last four decades “The Future” and AI has been presented differently depending upon the mood of the culture. Some see the Future as an opportunity to cast off the shackles of everyday work in order to pursue nobler causes and higher learning. Others see a future of humans imprisoned and replaced by technology.
Do you think we are able to look at our future logically? Let’s start at the beginning, why do we work? Many people work today for a very basic need, to be able to provide for themselves and their family. We also work for a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
When we look at the scientific research around what people really need and where they achieve satisfaction, it is easy to get confused. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there are five levels of development needed to reach self-actualization. Maslow offers a linear look at human psychology that must be completed in order to reach new levels of motivation. With today’s technology the linear approach is not always successful. Non-linear takes into account the variety of distractions from all directions.
Another look at human needs comes from a theory developed by Motivational Speaker Tony Robbins. Robbins has identified “Six Basic Human Needs” to feel achievement. These needs, unlike Maslow’s linear approach, are ascending. The ascending has a journey feel to it, something to accomplish along the journey to personal growth. Certainty, Variety, Significance, Love and Connection, Growth and Contribution all contribute to a fulfilling life. In Today’s world these needs are met by a combination of professional and private life.
Because of humanity’s historical reference to employment, it is easy to see why people are afraid that AI will disrupt their daily lives and in turn their self-actualization because so many people equate their life with their jobs. If anything, there is an opportunity to take our humanity to a new level; free of the restrictive “golden handcuffs” so many of us are chained to in our day-to-day jobs.
What if (my regular followers know I love “What if”) we could restructure society to allow us to pursue and grow based on our individuality and talents? There are many opportunities to meet our human needs, but we must remain open-minded to the coming evolution our society.
There are a number of solutions to explore. Perhaps a “balancing” of jobs lost with community job replacements. Put displaced workers into community growth positions such as community gardens, daycare support or municipal cleanup. Think of it as something along the lines of workfare but with a living decent wage.
To make a really big leap, perhaps we should seriously consider Futurist Jacque Fresco’s vision for the future. Fresco has been creating a utopian society in the middle of Florida for over thirty years. Fresco supports a resource based society and one that eliminates money all together.
Fifty years ago, Gene Rodenberry introduced us to the concept of a world without money with Star Trek. Within the abundant world of the Star Trek Earth, the need for money has become obsolete due to a fair wealth distribution that eliminated resource hording and created abundance. This effect frees up humanity for more altruistic endeavors.
We are on the cusp of rapid technological growth. As such we must begin to think ahead and in turn, we must free ourselves to dream. It will take courage and imagination, but if we work toward solutions we will come out better on the other side!