Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to ‘the ability of a digital computer or computer controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings’. AI is commonly associated with machines or computers that have been developed to mimic human characteristics such as ‘the ability to reason, discover meaning…and learn from past experience’. (Copeland, n.d.
). Recently, the research and funding of artificial intelligence development has gained extreme traction, with products such as self driving cars becoming increasingly available to the general population. AI is also becoming increasingly popular in industry, with the rise of automation driving production prices down, investment into this field is becoming an attractive option for business owners in a large array of sectors. As a result of the increased popularity of artificial and the traction it is gaining, a division has formed. Some people believe that due to how fast AI is developing, it will soon reach a level where it will in effect replace humans and ‘take over’, whereas others believe it will be of a great benefit to the human race, assisting us rather than replacing us.
The aspect of artificial intelligence that the majority of people seem to be worried about is the fact it will take over our jobs as a direct result of automation. Though artificial intelligence will inevitably cost some jobs, it also has the potential to create many others. An example of this is the introduction of ATMs in the USA. Between the years of 1995 and 2010, ‘the number of ATMs increased from 100,00 to 400,00’ whereas the number of bank branches actually increased ‘by 40% between 1998 and 2004’.
This is because the introduction of ATMs and the automation they provided meant it was cheaper for banks to open more branches. Consequently, more tellers were hired to staff these branches, not less, despite the initial fear that the ATM would replace bank tellers altogether. Another example of this goes as far back as the industrial revolution. Advances in mechanical technology meant that more and more factories, particularly in the textiles industry were automating the cloth making process.
At the time, people were frightened that factory workers (who made up a large percentage of the workforce) would become redundant, much like how we are scared of artificial intelligence today. However, this automation drove the price of producing cloth down, meaning the factory owners could open more and more factories, thus increasing the amount of jobs available. This growth could be seen in many other sectors that have yet to introduce automation and artificial intelligence.