Let’s take a break from biotech for a second and focus on a different sector of technology. In one of my classes, we recently finished up a unit on artificial intelligence during which I looked into its impact on the working world. There are several jobs on their way to extinction because of artificial intelligence but we don’t necessarily notice it due to a lack of knowledge of the technology.
Simply put, artificial intelligence is a computerized system that uses human-like intellect to accomplish tasks. According to the late Marvin Minsky, a professor at M.I.T and groundbreaking explorer of artificial intelligence, the brain is a machine whose abilities can be studied and recreated inside a computer, which would then teach us humans to further understand the human brain and higher level mental functions. To do so, artificial intelligence requires the study of mechanical and computational properties of problems and problem-solving methods. Then we can aim to endow computers with problem-solving abilities that are equivalent to those of humans.
The following video is a succinct overview about the impact of AI:
I had a conversation with my professor regarding the “human intuition” type jobs (as opposed to skill-based jobs) and the confusion about whether or not they will become extinct. I used baristas as my primary example. There are hundreds of thousands of baristas employed worldwide, but there has been an increase in coffee kiosks. So far these kiosks are only able to “serve” coffee, but the future may bring fully automated barista robots that can make a cup of coffee from start to finish. There are two important things to note: 1. The displacement of these hundreds of thousands of baristas won’t make a large dent in the world, but if all other jobs that require similar tasks were to endure the same displacement, unemployment rates could rise. 2. Barista robots/kiosks do not have the appeal that a Starbucks or local coffee shop has – they don’t provide a welcoming ambience or hangout spot.
The integration of AI sounds scarier in some professions than in others. Regardless of profession, it is scary to just think about how many jobs could possibly go away. But the conclusion my professor and I came to is that humans will always be needed in all parts of the working world because we require human contact. Robots will advance and they will be able to do the tasks that humans can do, but they won’t be able to provide human touch and express human emotions.