Artificial Intelligence part 2

There is a new concern about the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on jobs and the future of humanity. As computer software is getting “smarter” it will have a significant effect on a wide range of jobs. At this time, it is difficult to know which types of jobs will be eliminated by AI but it is expected that the number will be very large.

Since AI technologies have advanced at a very fast rate, the change will be unexpected and faster than most people thought. For example, Machines with AI algorithms have won in “Chess,” “Poker,” and “Go” against human experts. Robots with AI are learning fast to replace people in factories, offices, even restaurants. AI technologies are already integrated into self-driving cars, trucks, trains, and even passenger airplanes and it already threatens the transportation industry.

In the past, people write programs to control machines but with machine learning, the AI algorithms give a machine the ability to learn by itself without being programmed. As the machine is getting smarter and learning more things, it can create more changes in many jobs. For example, Uber is using AI to schedule where their drivers should be placed, to minimize the wait times of passengers while keeping all the drivers busy. This new type of efficiency allows Uber to create a new kind of business that employs many people but still maximize its profits.

My friend, Professor Tomlin often joke with his students: “Soon AI can affect many jobs that require the technical skills that many college students are learning today. As a machine is focusing on learning more, students are learning less because they get distracted by mobile phones and Facebook. When the machine is getting smarter, many jobs that require human decision will be done by a machine.”

AI technology has a lot of potentials that could replace humans in many things that we do today and it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Many scientists predict that within 30 years, smart robots could overtake human and our future will be very bleak. Last year, the world-famous physicist Stephen Hawking issued a warning: “AI could develop a will of its own, and AI could be the worst thing that could happen to humanity.” Tesla founder Elon Musk also believes that AI will be a major threat to people.

Students also asked me: “Have you worried about what AI will bring? Did we create a monster that could destroy us? I told them: “We do have choices about our future: Either we keep learning to open our mind and understand our roles on this earth or we can let our greed and ambition dictate us on the profits now and let the next generation pay for the mistakes that we make today. As we are learning about technology, we must also learn about humanity, compassion, ethics and the role of technology in our lives. The future is still ours and how we make of it.”


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University