Uber has been under a lot of negative headlines recently but you can’t dismiss the fact that the progress it has made under Travis Kalanick is quite impressive. There are so many people relying on Uber every day, some to get to places while some to make money by driving those people to places. If you remember Kalanick’s TED talk, you might be able to recall that it ended with the question “What will you say to your army of million drivers when self-driving cars take over”.
You can’t really ignore the fact that someday, it is going to displace drivers.
While he was quick to dismiss that as a real problem claiming that it is going to take much longer than we expect and will be a long transition starting with only some areas, a lot is actually being said about how AI will affect many industries. You can’t really ignore the fact that someday, it is going to displace drivers. And when you look outside the automobile space, there are clearly many other industries where AI is sticking its head and could actually affect jobs directly. But is it something to be worried about really?
Yes, AI is certainly important and brands need to keep exploring the possibilities to stay ahead of the curve and it will displace jobs that don’t require much effort on the part of humans. Anything more than that is just dreamed up movie script, at least right now. Even with all the developments, we know too little about the human brain. It would be quite optimistic to declare a war against AI already.
Did assembly line kill jobs? Yes. Was it a long-term impact? No.
The jobs that will be affected directly won’t result into a loss of employment. Technological developments have always driven such thoughts. Did assembly line kill jobs? Yes. Was it a long-term impact? No. With every major development, there is displacement of roles from the lower end of the spectrum towards the higher end.
AI will push humans to explore new forms of employment. To top that up, some of the lost employment will be balanced out automatically. If a car can get on the road without a driver, there will be more people needed to provide the robust connectivity it needs, to set up the infra across cities, to build IoT devices for the cities, to build bigger homes as people move away from city centres and in many other ways.
The developments will favour those who have higher level skills but leave room for others to jump the gap with proper re-training programs.
That said, there will be negatives too. It could widen the gulf between workers of different skill levels as the lower end is more likely to be hit first. The transition phase would be tough and the displacement is going to appear as an ugly fish.
Over time, however, it is possible that AI merges as seamlessly as many other technological developments which were earlier feared. People will have jobs and they will make money. Who else is going to pay for the services that the AI tools plan to sell otherwise?
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