What to do with people who will be replaced by robots?

    In this pre-New Year publication, we decided to speculate a little about the future in the world of robots and about the role of man in it.

    Predicting the future these days has become an absolute must have among experts. When technologies change the world so rapidly, I really want to look at least a few years ahead. The goals are different. Consumers - dream up, admire and / or be terrified, businesses - adjust plans, politicians - think over measures to preserve calm in society in case of a “big technological shukher”.

    For example, here are a few numbers from the McKinsey Global Institute study of December 2017:

    • by 2030, due to the growing number of robots, 800 million people will lose their jobs, 375 million of them may be retrained;
    • about 59% of all production activities can be automated;
    • potentially automated: 90% of the tasks performed by welders and millers, 73% of catering professions, 43% of working time in the financial sector;
    • health care has a technical capacity to automate about 36%.

    Such figures - somewhere more, somewhere less - are found in many sources. And if a person comes up with a presentation on this topic, then where are the forecasts without?

    By occupation, I often attend events on neural networks, machine learning and big data. It is these areas of development that make robots beat us at chess and go, retouch photos and videos so that we don’t see a difference with the present, help cars move without a driver.

    Of course, at such events everyone also says that artificial intelligence will replace some professions. From the obvious:

    • call center employees are threatened because there are chat bots;
    • truck drivers and taxi drivers - self-driving cars are not very confident yet, but one day they will do without them;
    • partly lawyers and partly doctors - basic conclusions and basic diagnostics can be done by chat bots and automatic analysis systems.

    The question arises: what will happen to these people who are being squeezed out by technology?
    And here begins the field for fantasy. There are two main ideas.

    Some say that they will introduce a social tax on the robot: if a company suddenly changes a living person for a car, then it will have to finance it.

    Others are confident that people, freed from the shackles of routine, will either retrain - and go to other professions, or remain in the same areas, but will be engaged in more complex and highly intellectual tasks. There is even such a fantasy that a significant part will go to programmers (some of whom, by the way, are also automated by all means).

    The catch is that the current technological breakthrough happened literally in 15-20 years. People argue that robots can replace only some limited set of skills. But I think this set is much larger than we assume now. And it will constantly expand.

    Already there are self-driving robots cars. And even if not self-managed, then they are stuffed with thousands of sensors that, with correct programming, allow the car to do self-diagnosis on the go. So that the future repair robot knows where to "heal." There are robots that collect cars, and robots that control car builders. Many workers and even intermediate professions will be replaced sooner or later.

    Take a lawyer or a diagnostician. For both of them, the “if-then” tree can be quite clearly defined. It is clear that this applies to cases where communication with the patient is not required, where you can see a couple of codes and precedents for understanding what to do. Or, for example, an accountant. For the most part, they look for data, combine, compare it in one-another-third place. Already, there are programs that solve basic accounting problems. They are not smart yet and only help a person. But soon they "get through."

    If you think about it, the majority of people on Earth are engaged in not very highly intellectual labor. Yes, difficult, but not requiring a megacreative. Key point: these are repetitive things. And that means - automated.

    Then we can assume that one day only extremely clever professions will remain on the planet. For example, scientists, inventors, super cool doctors, lawyers. As a percentage of the total number of them is not so much. All others can be replaced.

    By the way, there are ideas that the last will be replaced by purely humanistic professions like psychotherapists - those that should listen to the emotional background of a person and help. It seems to me that the psychotherapist is not very difficult to replace. But the thing is different: for a person it is important that the specialist be a living person.

    I also have a lot of questions to retrain to more complex activities.
    Firstly, a lot will depend on how the retraining system is built. If now the future expert is learning from easy to hard, how will he become a professional if he misses the basic steps?

    Secondly, I am sure that those are mistaken who say that people will adapt and will do something advanced. Too many people will have to adjust. Plus, not all are able to retrain from simple to complex work. Rather, they will jump from simple work to simple, where the robots have not yet reached (but they will get - not in this generation, so in the next). And sooner or later this race will end. So there will be a layer of people who have nothing to do and they will not bring benefit.

    It turns out that the trend with robots in the limit looks like this: there are robots and there are people who control them. There is power. There are a small number of people without whom it is impossible. And the owners of robots that once invested in technology.

    Here, at a certain top of power, the question arises: why feed all the "optimized"? Not in the sense of social responsibility or humanitarian expediency, but in the purely economic sense - how to implement it?

    It turns out that the few who will remain to work and create should have enough responsibility to contain all the rest. There will be many of these others, but no one will need them. And for them, the meaning of existence is blurred.

    If we do not want the future to come, we need to think now what to do with it.
    Today there is no question whether it is possible to replace a human with a robot (because it is possible). The main reason for reflection is how, in the process of total automation, on the one hand, protect us as a species, and on the other, so that it also brings value? Save, just because you have to save - a short-lived goal that leads to degradation.
    Perhaps, I do not notice certain economic factors, maybe for some work a person will always be cheaper than a robot.

    Now in some countries regulated employment of migrants. They are cheaper to pay than residents, but there is a law that does not allow to hire more migrants for a certain amount. Perhaps a similar story will be made with robots - even if the robot does the job cheaper and better.

    Here the question of the value of a person comes on. Now, in the context of the fact that the planet is a global market, it is determined easily. For example, he does useful work. And if this is not necessary? What value will ensure his right to exist? How can he harmonize with the world that is formed?

    Perhaps you need to give evolution some time. So that we align our needs and go to another level, where everyone will have something to do without repetitive tasks. But, I think, we will not come to this painlessly.

    I hope the situation described “in the limit” will not come. Because then the population will drop to a minimum. But it will definitely not be the way it is said at the conferences that people will just constantly relearn. After all, one day there will be nowhere to relearn.

    And for those who want to stay on the wave of demand and directly participate in solving problems of robotization, come to us for the course for analysts , which begins on January 28th.

    This time we added extended topics on convolutional and recurrent neural networks, Sequence Modeling and the development of chat bots. You will find as always a lot of practice and real business cases.

    You can leave a request here . Learn more about other courses and the School here .

    The post was prepared by the School of Data based on the publication of the founder of the School in the Business HUB of Kyivstar PJSC.

    All with the coming!

    Also popular now: