It’s been the plot of many science-fiction novels and films over time. The story is always more or less the same. Well-intentioned scientists create a revolutionary machine, only to see said machine gain a mind of its own and overrun the human race. While compelling, it is important to remember that these plots are still, in fact, fiction.
However, many are still trying to apply these fictions to reality. To them, innovation, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI) represent the technological menaces that overruns the human race, or, in this case, the job market. They sound the alarm bells, and try to use policy to stop this threat.
AI means more than simply the creation of robots to do jobs that humans would ordinarily do. This is a gross oversimplification. What it actually means is utilizing technology to be able to assess any given environment, and provide information and assistance to make any goal more easily achievable.
The introduction of this innovation will not result in the replacement of human labor and human jobs. It will lead to the maximization of human potential. Numerous studies have shown that AI would boost labor productivity in the economy by about 40%.
Labor productivity is measured by how much real GDP one hour of work produces. An increase in this number means businesses can more efficiently create and produce business, and decrease the cost of doing so. The result is more product availability and lower prices for consumers.
Practically, this means a family of 4 won’t have to work 90 hours a week over multiple jobs just to make sure food goes on the table every night, and the car has enough gas the next morning. With families only needing one job to provide, this will open up other jobs, for other families, and increase the standard of living across the country and the globe.
In the workplace, AI has the potential to directly save lives. One of the main areas economists believe AI can have the biggest impact is the healthcare industry. In the short term, this means streamlining the treatment process for doctors, and allowing hospitals to see more patients, more efficiently. In the long term, it could mean more accurate, automated diagnoses.
Yes, AI will impact certain sectors of the economy, and alter or change the need for certain jobs. However, studies show that the jobs changed or lost due to this innovation will be more than made up for in the jobs it creates. In fact estimates show AI, in its earliest stages, will add $650 million to the economy and create 10,000 jobs this year alone.
The jobs that are impacted allow for more innovative opportunities to arise. In Kentucky, innovation and automation has impacted adversely the coal industry. That has created the opportunity for companies to begin hiring former coal workers to learn how to code, and put even rural areas on the technological map to create miniature Silicon Valleys across the country. This will increase access to connectivity and resources everywhere.
To raise fear about the economic impact AI will have on the American worker is to underestimate the capacity of Americans, and humans the world over to adapt, and is to underestimate the unwavering resiliency of the human spirit. This latest development holds the promise of creating a better country and a better world at a rate we had never previously thought possible. It must not be feared, but encouraged and fostered.