If you think Artificial Intelligence (AI) only destroys labor workers in the assembly lines in factories you may want to reconsider your view. Today AI technologies are making significant progress and some are doing a better job than humans in areas such as sales, marketing, reception, and services etc.
For example, many car dealers already use AI technology to analyze sales and set the selling prices faster than any sales manager could. And AI is already being used to develop marketing strategies for many online companies and email customers for special sale events within minutes when it would take a team of many marketing managers to do the same thing in fifteen days. Today automated phone and scheduling systems have replaced the traditional receptionist job. If you go to some companies, you will not see any receptionists but all meetings, and directions can be download into your mobile phone so you just follow the voice of a robot from your phone and go to the meeting place. If you are going to a store to buy something, you may not see salespersons or a cashier because these stores already use Artificial intelligence automation to identify what you buy and charge you directly on the mobile phone account. You just take what you want and walk out. Amazon was the first store that used this technology and many stores are following it. Currently, over five thousand stores in the U.S. and Europe are implementing this technology. A store owner explained: “I invested over a million dollar in this technology but already reduced the cost of labor over three million dollars in the first year. If I continue, I can increase my profit by 500% in the next three years. AI technology is wonderful.” He does not mention how many workers he has to lay off and what happens to them.
Many company executives believe that AI is the essence of The fourth Industrial Revolution and have invested several billion dollars into AI technology. The bad news is AI will completely eliminate many jobs and could put millions of workers into the unemployment lines. The good news is it will open many new jobs for people who work in the AI area, especially college graduates in Computer Science and Software Engineering. Of course, some jobs will not be strictly replaced, if workers are willing to learn new things and adjust their work for new technology. Many workers ask: “Will technology take my job?” the answer is unless you are actively learning new things, especially in technology areas, you may be able to maintain the job. However, you will need to learn and continue to learn to keep up with the technology changes. According to several studies, 75% of the current jobs, especially labor and routine office works will be replaced by automation and Artificial Intelligence in the next ten years.
As a researcher and professor in this field, I believe advanced technologies are the two-edged sword, It can improve people’s lives but it can also create greater inequality and social disruption. Technologies can help cure diseases, improve health and longevity but these same technologies can also create serious issues such as jobs loss and unemployment for many people. While developed countries can enjoy the opportunities of new technologies that can help eradicate disease and automate many tasks, many developing countries will not be able to reap the benefits of these technologies resulting in high unemployment and social disruption because they do not have access to modern education that is essential to help them to adopt these technologies.
I believe with proper education, training, and good leadership, some developing countries can overcome this obstacle and jumping directly to adopt the new technologies quickly. It is possible for developing countries to quickly train their people to new technologies and catch up with developed countries. Why It is possible? Because I already saw many developing countries skipped the landline telephones and went directly to mobile phones. It is possible because some developing countries already bypassing electricity lines and going directly to solar energy. Then it is possible to change the current education system quickly and adopt a new system that focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
A few months ago, several students told me: “It is impossible to change our education system, we have been talking about it for years but nothing happens. As students, we are helpless.” I told them: “You are responsible for your own education. If the school does not teach you then find another way to learn whatever you need. Do not sit there and wait, be active in your own learning, after all, it is your career and your future. Why do you think many of us are putting our courses in the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)? Why many of us are developing tutorial websites? The opportunities to learn are there for anyone who wants to learn can learn. Today, the training on the latest technologies such as AI, Machine learning, Automation is available online. All you have to do is to access and learn without having to pay anything. As students, you must develop a lifelong learning attitude and finding every possible means to learn on your own, not depending on the education system, if it does not meet your need. You are young, you must be active, not passive because the job opportunities do not wait.”
- Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University