How artificial intelligence will change the world of work

By | May 1, 2023

Artificial intelligence is changing the world and has made great strides in recent years: ChatGPT and other applications can perform tasks in seconds that we probably couldn’t do so efficiently in such a short time.

But will many jobs be eliminated in the future because machines can do our work faster?

German economist Jens Sidekum sees no imminent risk of mass unemployment due to the increased spread of artificial intelligence. There will undoubtedly be changes, because Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be widely used. In fact, some professional fields are characterized by activities that can easily be replaced by technologies. According to the German Economist, these activities include “ordinary administrative activities, such as completing Excel files, but also writing increasingly repetitive standard texts, research and information gathering.” These are all things that AI could eventually do more effectively. But that doesn’t mean the people who still do that work will be out of a job because of it. Rather, that workers are freed from tedious tasks in the future and thus have more time for activities that make people indispensable.

What occupations are at risk?

A team of researchers from Switzerland led by artificial intelligence expert Dario Floreanos investigated which professions are particularly at risk from artificial intelligence. Machines already have dexterity and physical strength, but they are also surprisingly aware of problems, because they can tell when something is not going as planned. What machines lack is originality, coordination, or problem-solving ability. Using this knowledge, the researchers calculated an automatic risk index for each occupation.

The butcher profession is most at risk. It has an automation risk index of 78%. This means that the robots already have 78% of the necessary skills. At the other end of the spectrum are doctors. The risk index is 43%. Today, machines already possess nearly half the skills that make up possibly the safest profession.

According to the Hazard Index, jobs such as pilot engineers, air traffic controllers, and most medical professions are safe. Radiology specialists are an exception. They are already in the middle because artificial intelligence can do some of the diagnostic work. However, this is where the study reveals a weakness: the database lists 18 essential skills for general practitioners; empathy is not one of them. Researcher Raphael Lalive says they focused on basic physical and mental abilities. They would not have captured the whole reality of the profession, but at least a large part of it. The models could be in trouble. At the bottom half of the scale are waiters and personal care workers. The jobs of cashiers, dishwashers, taxi drivers or models, which can now be replaced digitally, are even less secure.

Are journalists at risk?

The OpenAI researchers who developed Chat GPT at the University of Pennsylvania, on the other hand, sometimes come up with different predictions than the Swiss researchers. According to his study, people in these professions should be prepared that artificial intelligence can take over at least some of their previous tasks: programmers, mathematicians, accountants, interpreters, writers, journalists. Chat GPT already has remarkable results in tasks like translation, classification, creative writing, and computer code generation. However, especially in the field of journalism, one should not leave activities entirely in the hands of ChatGPT, as it lacks the ability to judge the facts. The American researchers assume that most jobs will be changed in some way by AI language models. About 80% of US workers have jobs where at least one task can be completed faster with AI. But there are also professions in which artificial intelligence will play only a secondary role. These include, for example, cooks, auto mechanics, and farm work.

Even lawyers belong to the endangered group of professions, because some of their activities can, in principle, be automated. “Does this now mean that all lawyers will be out of a job? No, probably not. But that means that the profession could probably change a bit in the future,” says economist Sidecum. If lawyers make smart use of new technological capabilities, they can focus more on truly creative things and working with clients. The same applies to other professional groups.

EU: Artificial Intelligence Law

Considering the various risks of artificial intelligence, the EU is planning an AI law. The law aims to comprehensively regulate the supply and use of artificial intelligence by public and private entities.

Media ethicist Dr. Jessica Hizen from the University of Tübingen explains that there are already rules for dealing with artificial intelligence in many areas: for example, in calculations on the stock market, in autonomous driving or in medicine. and the surgical robots used there.

On the other hand, the “platform economy” sector, in which companies such as Meta or Twitter operate, has so far hardly been regulated. They doubt that companies self-regulate. Microsoft recently killed off much of the AI ​​ethics department.

It knows no moral boundaries.

What measures does the EU legislation provide for artificial intelligence? To ensure the responsible use of AI, the EU wants to create binding rules with a “risk-based approach”. If AI systems fall into the dangerous category of ‘unacceptable’, ‘because they infringe Union values ​​such as fundamental rights’, they should be banned. Prohibited practices include, but are not limited to, techniques that subtly manipulate people, causing physical or psychological harm.

It is therefore decisive how the law will finally be designed.

Claudia Paganini, professor of media ethics at the Munich School of Philosophy, also sees the EU’s AI law as fundamentally positive. However, she finds it problematic that exemptions with arguments like “national security” create loopholes for AI applications that could be used in undemocratic ways. As an example, she cites the issue of facial recognition in public spaces.

Expert Jessica Heesen calls for more rules, especially when using artificial intelligence and algorithms in communication, especially in the field of social media:

Artificial intelligence systems, which can easily create fake images with a deceptive appearance, have shown the already existing dangers of the technology, says Hizen. The problem is that we will no longer know: What is real and what is not?

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