Historically mechanization of a human task is met with resistant due to its’ direct or indirect impact on the livelihood of a certain section of people. AI is introducing automation at a much higher level which has great potential of performing not only most of the mechanical tasks but also sophisticated decision making which is normally considered a human forte. Recently technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, has said that ‘There certainly will be job disruption. Because what’s going to happen is robots will be able to do everything better than us. … I mean all of us. I am not sure exactly what to do about this. This is really the scariest problem.’.
Considering so much being talked around about direct correlation of growth of AI and job losses I end up writing my feelings and way to approach this relationship between AI and humans keeping my country India in context.
India has the second-largest population in the world which means it has too many mouths to feed and too many hands to be utilized. Adoption of AI is a way to move forward for our country not only for economic progress but also to remain technically relevant in today’s fiercely competitive world where the cost of manufacturing and operations are being reduced drastically through the use of AI. There is no hiding from the truth that AI and related technologies like IoT & RPA are replacing human jobs in big chunks. For example, just think in the Indian context, to manage traffic in cities, currently still manual resources are used which are large part of the traffic management system. Now replace it with an automated traffic management system, a combination of IoT sensors, automated vehicles recognition system and AI-driven system to manage traffic will leave current manual resources redundant which would find themselves skill-less to perform any job in other areas. Another example is Autonomous Car i.e. self-driven cars equipped with Augmented Reality technology. In India, recent data from late 2018 says that there are approximate 25 lac vehicles registered with Ola and Uber together. This figure might double if we cover all car operators in India. Autonomous cars will leave so many people jobless though it is not happening immediately, but we cannot stop from happening ii in near future considering the high rate of technological growth and even faster rate of adoption.
The fact that comparatively a few highly innovative and skilled persons contribute to these AI-driven products which normally impact a large existing workforce. A two-year study suggests that by 2030, intelligent agents and robots could replace as much as 30% of the world’s current human labour. If we see this in the context of India, the impact would be much higher.
This correlation will leave a large population of manpower redundant in India if it is not managed prudently and in a timely manner. This could lead to serious problem both economically and socially. There is a direct relation of demand and supply, which should be kept in balanced. Job loss directly reduces expenditure power and leads to imbalance. It is very important to understand this correlation and proactively manage it. There is an urgent need to address this dilemma in a systematic manner. Below is an attempt to propose an approach to address human job aspect though there are many other human aspects like impact on the social fabric and interpersonal relationships.
We have to start measuring the impact of AI innovations on human aspects at the place of innovation.
For each AI innovation which is getting productionize, a mandatory step should be performed as a prerequisite by AI technologies promoter. This mandatory step may be called a human care, comprises of a set of activities. First one, assess the figure of directly impacted jobs and also indirectly impacted ones. Indirectly impacted persons are those, which serves the directly impacted persons. Second, keeping in mind the skill set of persons being rendered redundant, come up with plans to reskill the impacted persons for other type of jobs as jobs created by new technologies are normally filled by a new highly-skilled workforce. The third step, the cost of the new product should include the cost of retraining the replaced resources, though it is quite subjective.
Government has to chip in with the timely introduction of policies which helps not only AI technologies innovators but also safeguard the interest of impacted humans. The government should proactively assess the areas which might be impacted by future introduction of AI technologies and come up with plans to create awareness, retrain and reemploy the impacted manpower.
These steps might not only address this critical humanity aspect i.e. job loss but also help in reducing the invisible resistance towards AI adoption. Though it might not solve the problem completely however it will address some of the human aspects which are left unaddressed so far.
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Anil Sharma is a part of the AIM Writers Programme. He is an IT Architect working for a Telcom company who likes the challenge and enjoys working with people in solving complex problems. He has been in the IT Industry for 25+ years and loves the progress and transformation it is going through. He likes to continuously upgrade his technical skills by pursuing various IT-related certifications like AWS, Data Science, TOGAF, etc. His current love is Data Science and he enjoys exploring it in free times and on weekends.