Staff Writer: Roxanne Hepburn
The tour guide claps his hands together, signaling the factory tour’s start. One thing pops out to you as you are led from room to room. Where are all of the workers? The machines move in tandem, perfectly producing each product as a single supervisor watches from a glass window above.
This tour represents a generic factory in a generic location as industries worldwide transition to this “optimization” by replacing laborers with computers. But what happens to the displaced laborers?
Without access to similar jobs in their field, their careers become obsolete. Most corporations will not compensate their workers or move them to different positions during these replacement periods. So, the displaced laborers are forced into unemployment and must find other ways to make money and survive.
A line needs to be formed where AI cannot cross. In reality, AI could replace most, if not all, jobs in society. We must determine where computers cannot take people’s jobs because a human touch is required. We have to speak up and interfere with corporations that will always replace a paid employee with a computer.
In WBUR’s “Here & Now: Artificial Intelligence May Boost Economy, But Cost a Lot of Jobs,” AI’s effect on the workforce and economy are discussed. They focus on the high rates of job loss due to the rise of AI. It is explained that robots are already taking over any repetitive and uncreative careers, but it is more than that.
The BBC published the article “The Pun-Loving Computer Programs That Write Adverts,” which explains how computers are now writing ads. The report highlights how algorithms are replacing even creative careers.
Many people’s first job is within the service industry. However, all of those unskilled tasks are being taken over by robots. This leaves many young adults unable to enter the workforce until they have learned and mastered a skilled trade.
The main issue that would arise in this nearing future is the inability to learn a trade due to a lack of funds. Without an entry-level job to pay through school, many lower and middle-class students will be left with no education or unskilled labor jobs to survive.
And it gets worse. Creative careers that require an education are also being replaced, leaving many people’s degrees obsolete, forcing them to go back to school to find a new way to survive.
Corporations will always replace a human with a robot when given a chance. It is cheaper to maintain a computer than pay a person a living wage. And so, companies will work to replace any task they can with a robot with no regard to its effects on their displaced employees.
One factor to consider when trying to form an opinion on AI in the workplace is the quality and care put into tasks. Most if not all jobs could one day be replaced by robots. But could a robot put the same gentle and caring touch a human holds when giving a small child a shot?
In 2018, NPR published “Autonomous Weapons Would Take Warfare to A New Domain, Without Humans.” The article highlights the replacement of military officers trained in the nuances of killing with AI guns. These weapons would take down any target that fits the listed criteria without context. AI cannot read between the lines of situations to properly assess and act the same way a human would.
AI in the workplace has the potential to make human lives easier. It could remove the physical burdens many encounter in unskilled labor and free up time for those overworked employees to spend with their families.
A future where the working class embraces AI can only be possible with social assistance such as universal basic income to support displaced workers. People must be provided a living wage during transition periods to gain an education that would allow them to enter specialized careers. However, the world is not in a political climate that would allow such policies.
Currently, AI is being used appropriately in proportion to employed people. As long as that balance is maintained and people can make a living & survive, it is okay for advancements to continue.
Unfortunately, corporations will always take steps to reduce spending and increase profit by cutting out the employees. So, governments will have to step in and regulate where a human touch is needed in the future.