For centuries, there have been fearful predictions that technology will one day replace people, displace jobs, and overpower the human race. But here we are in 2020 – a year that was long thought of as a futuristic inflection point – and we don’t appear any closer to a robotic takeover. It’s safe to say we’ll never reach a point where technology moves above people on the food chain.
Why AI Can Never Replace Humans
There’s no doubt that technology is becoming more advanced and autonomous. Things like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) mean technology can learn from experiences and grow smarter over time without additional inputs from the programmer or technologist behind the platform.
Along with this growth, we’ve seen a rise in the number of people who are anxious and fearful about the notion that technology could soon replace humans and render workers useless – essentially putting the control of the economy in the hands of a select few tech companies.
On the surface, fears like these sound plausible. However, all you have to do is dig down a couple of layers, and you’ll see that technology doesn’t stand a chance against humans. Here are a few specific reasons why:
1. Human Wisdom
“People are getting more worried about the future, about technology replacing humans, eliminating jobs and widening the gap between the rich and the poor. But I think these are empty worries,” Alibaba founder Jack Ma recently told the audience at a keynote speech at Alibaba Cloud’s Computing Conference in Hangzhou. “Technology exists for people. We worry about technology because we lack confidence in ourselves and imagination for the future.”
As Ma told those in attendance, people have one thing that no machine will ever have: wisdom.
As smart and intellectual as top platforms like AlphaGo (Google’s artificial intelligence program) and Watson (IBM’s supercomputer that famously won a Jeopardy competition) are, they don’t have the intuitive wisdom and insight that humans possess. They can think in probabilities and use learning models to make smart decisions, but they don’t have the understanding required to analyze decisions from all angles and make wise choices. That’s a skill that’s proprietary to humans.
2. Human Creativity
Creativity is another skill that’s nearly impossible for robots and computers to replicate fully.
While you might be able to train a computer program to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, do you think a computer could conjure up the idea or cultivate the genius required to develop the concept?
Sure, there are computer programs that can design homes, but is there a software that can do what people like Frank Lloyd Wright have done?
Human creativity is unmatched. That’s an elusive ingredient that computers will never be able to latch onto successfully.
3. Human Ambition
Computers are programmed to execute. They’ll do whatever they’re told – and they often perform exceptionally well. But technology is incapable of feeling genuine motivation. And this is something that will hold it back.
Technology will never reign supreme because it’s no match for human drive and ambition. A human can push himself to unthinkable levels to provide for his family, avoid embarrassment, accomplish a childhood dream, or prove someone wrong. A computer cannot.
4. Human Soft Skills
AI-powered computers can outmatch humans on hard skills all day long, but they can’t come close to matching the invaluable soft skills that humans possess.
This disparity between hard and soft skills has become especially evident in recent years as the pressure has increased in industries where technology plays a role in performing essential tasks. Court reporting is a perfect example. Because even as court reporting technology has improved, human court reporters have become more indispensable than ever before.
“The human element cannot be underestimated. Court reporters often act as moderators in a sense. They can ask speakers to speak up, slow down, repeat or clarify their words, stop speaking over one another, and read back what was said to ensure accuracy,” The Cooper Group explains. “Court reporters also understand dialect and regional accents to produce an accurate word-by-word record of all that was said during a proceeding.”
These are soft skills that computers will never be able to learn or acquire. Thus, this is another positive point of differentiation for humans.
5. Skill Improvement, Not Displacement
If we’re open to technology and don’t try to shut it out, things like robots and AI will improve our skillsets, not displace our jobs. It’ll force us to up our game and advance our skills to remain competent and worthy of work. That’s the power of the human-technology relationship.
6. History Tells Us So
Everyone wants to talk about job displacement and how technology is taking work away from humans who need ways to support themselves financially. But is this true? If you study the history of technology and its impact on the labor force, you may be surprised to learn that “robots” don’t just take jobs – they also create them. And in most cases, there’s a positive net gain.
“There will always be a need for on-site, human labor and expertise when we deal with machines,” TechCrunch notes. “Robots will have glitches, need updates, and require new parts. As we rely more and more on mechanized systems and automation, we will require more people with technical skills to maintain, replace, update, and fix these systems and hardware.”
People have been scared of technology taking away jobs for years, yet here we are. What makes today any different than yesterday? New gadgets emerge, but the principles remain the same.
Putting Technology in Its Place
Technology has taken incredible strides over the last couple of decades – there’s no doubt about that. But the general public needs to stop viewing technology as a rival and begin seeing it for what it is: a helpful ally.
AI, ML, VR, AR – throw in any other acronym you want, but the simple fact of the matter is that advanced technology is here to complement our human skillsets. And the sooner we embrace this reality, the more beneficial this pairing will be.
business robot handshake – DepositPhotos