How to Beat Artificial Intelligence?

The New York Times recently reported Amazon’s plans for laying off 10,000 employees globally. On its heels we have news reports about more pink slips in Google, Meta (formerly Facebook), HP, CISCO including the very recent layoffs and mass resignations at Twitter. It is a bit of a concern that so many people will be unemployed at one time.

Closer to home we find tech companies on a laying off spree on the fear of a recession in the west. Since they are heavily dependent on western countries for outsourcing these tech companies have to maintain their top and bottom lines. The best way to do that in face of recession? Lay offs.

Beat artificial intelligence man fired

Opportunity to lay off

COVID was a great opportunity for industry players to cut down human dependency and costs. The employment scene took a lot of beating during COVID. In fact, as the lock down was easing, the Government of India had given instructions that there would be a human presence of not more than 30 percent to 50 percent in offices, workshops and factories. Companies laid off their human force citing government restrictions and cost cutting. We noticed that as the restrictions were lifted many factories, workshops and offices started to function at full capacity, but all the employees did not go back to work because they were never asked to come back.

So who is doing those jobs?

Beat Artificial Intelligence Covid job loss stats
Source MoneyControl

Technology, the new competition in the market?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already taken over our lives. We use it all the time in our smartphones to remind us of stuff including anniversaries and birthdays. Our weight loss and weight gain schedules and diets are dictated by AI. A lot of our meeting schedules and reminders is done by AI. Wherever we find repetitive tasks we use technology to get away from the mundane. 

For students who are aspiring to get jobs, once they complete whatever academic courses they are doing, news reports like these do not inspire a lot of hope in the job scenario. And it should not. Many jobs become obsolete faster than we can come up with a work force for them. 

Beat artificial Intelligence robot

Are Humans helping the Robots Now?

According to me, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and data science jobs are actually working towards getting themselves out of business. Once AI starts to function fully, let alone the doomsday scenario of robots taking over humans, they will definitely take over the jobs. Humans who have the money to invest in the technology will not think twice before replacing their best human resources with automation. 

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates 85 million jobs will be displaced by technology and automation by 2025. The ratio of humans to technology which is 70:30 is expected to become 50:50 in the coming years. 

World Economic Forum

What’s can AI do?

If you are looking for a job or will become part of the job seekers club in the near future, you should start thinking about what jobs may be created over the next few years that you can skill yourself with in order to be employed. Another way could be to learn such skills that machines or software will not be able to do at all.

Personally, the more I look at AI, the more I think that every job can be done by machines. Even that of patient listening and thoughtful response. Also painting beautiful scenery with the utmost perfection. Creativity is the obvious outlier in jobs threatened by technology. However, doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence for me.

As a website owner and content creator I thought my job would definitely beat artificial intelligence. It needs creativity, thinking and writing skills. That was before I found spin bots and AI content writing software all over the web. Then there are video and image creation tools that don’t need humans to really do anything more than provide ideas. In other words AI is already rendering humans obsolete in creative fields. Humans should really start thinking about things to do so that they earn money competing with technology. Students of today will be competing with AI. 

However, we think to ourselves we could do something to control the machines. That’s one reason why AI jobs and machine learning jobs are so popular. 

What jobs are not safe?

According to the The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) survey, there were many jobs that can be automated according to skill base. 14% jobs have a 70% chance of being automated. And 32% more jobs have around 50% to 70% chance of being automated. According to the survey the riskiest jobs were in food preparation and construction. Followed by cleaning and driving. After this Agriculture and Garment labor may lose jobs. You should understand of course that jobs will not tumble one after the other, but erode evenly across sectors. Also jobs will not disappear altogether. Only in countries that are poised to embrace technology will we see the laborers fade away. For companies to adopt technology they need to have a very good economical reason. If labor is cheaper in the country then companies will still employ humans. The human factor is, I must agree, not reliable. Humans need breaks and vacations. They come up with reasons to not do work. They get pregnant and fall sick. They need a learning curve. All these factors will be taken into account. Technology always trumps humans. So the only factor left is how cheap and replaceable is the labor of a country.  

It is always believed that the jobs that technology takes away are usually replaced by the same technology. This is the old example of industrialization giving back jobs it took away. I fail to see what jobs will be created by Artificial Intelligence, something that can gobble all other jobs, other than feeding it. 

The Forbes technology council lists a category among 15 jobs that will be overtaken by technology within a decade along with jobs like data entry, underwriting and labor intensive jobs. That category is “anything that can be learned”. If memory serves me right, all jobs can be learned, in fact they have to be learned. Nobody was born with job skills.

What can you do to beat Artificial Intelligence?

Humans will have to learn another level of talent to beat artificial intelligence. When it comes to talent like music, singing, dancing and other art forms humans believe they can stay ahead of technology. Unfortunately, there can be a very small percentage of humans who will actually be successful. Reminds me of Gattaca, the movie, where only genetically improved humans are allowed to work in some jobs. The competition will be too high. 

Big corporate and conglomerates will fight each other for space because they will be the organizations that can throw money for the top marketing and distribution networks. Only unique products will be able to survive. Here, I am trying to point out that small and medium enterprises may also feel the heat unless they get in line and take outsourced jobs from large corporations rather than doing their own thing. But that is doomsday prediction. What about people who cannot afford these high flying products. Someone has to cater to the masses

Kai-Fu Lee, AI expert and CEO of Sinovation Ventures, predicts 50 percent of all jobs will be automated by AI within 15 years. In his article about jobs that are safe he enumerates AI’s setbacks:

AI cannot create, conceptualize, or manage complex strategic planning.
AI cannot accomplish complex work that requires precise hand-eye coordination.
AI cannot deal with unknown and unstructured spaces, especially ones that it hasn’t observed.
AI cannot, unlike humans, feel or interact with empathy and compassion; therefore, it is unlikely that humans would opt for interacting with an apathetic robot for traditional communication services.

This is of course according to what we know about AI. My guess is AI has the potential to go beyond.

Professionals will survive!

According to the same report Teachers, writers, lawyers, social workers, medical professionals, therapists and management professionals will always survive. I beg to differ. According to me teaching is one of the easiest jobs to take over. Even writers. Lawyers also to some extent AI can do a better job. Maybe lawyers who use AI will be better lawyers. Medical professionals also like lawyers will be able to give better healthcare and perform better surgery thanks to technology. Anyone reading medical news will know this is already happening. 

The same report helps us to list the skills to Cultivate in the Age of AI

Basic mathematics.
Strong verbal and written communication.
Creativity.
People management.
Emotional intelligence.
Critical thinking and problem solving.

This apart from the fact we don’t know the history of things to come. We may see many new and unimaginable opportunities crop up and should simply be alert to these opportunities to earn our salaries. 

Conclusion

Going through Kai-Fu Lee’s list of jobs that will survive in the future I see one common thread that links most jobs. That of being human, human empathy and effective communication. People will always need other humans to take care of them, empathize and preempt help. I believe if humans take being human seriously, then all social entrepreneurs will survive and humans can take care of each other. There will always be enough jobs for people who work for other people. Remember technology was made to make human lives better.