In The Age of Artificial Intelligence, How Shall We Remain Human?

The last few years have seen great advances in artificial intelligence. What once seemed like the fanciful imagination of science fiction writers is rapidly becoming reality. The AI known as Sophia was created as an experiment in creating a human like robot. According to her creator, Sophia is a “platform” on which many softwares can be installed. She has appeared on several talk shows and even been interviewed. Oddly, she has even been declared a citizen of Saudi Arabia as of 2018! This may not work out as Sophia has come out as a proponent of women’s rights. Saudi Arabia, of course, has a very dismal record when it comes to women’s rights. In addition, is Sophia a Muslim? Can a robot be a Muslim? In order to be a citizen of Saudi Arabia, one must adhere to the Muslim faith.

There are some suspicions that Sophia is a hoax by her human creators, a sort of interactive puppet. This is possible, but she is not the only robot to be given rights. Tokyo, for example, has given a chatbot official residence status and the European Parliament is considering declaring robots to be “electronic persons”! In addition to increased rights, robots are also receiving increased responsibilities. In some cases, this is good. For example, HAL is a medical training robot designed to help medical students practice. It can mimic human pain and other emotions. This helps medical students become more familiar with certain procedures. There are also robots designed to seek landmines. This prevents human lives from being put at risk.

In other cases, however, the encroachment of artificial intelligence threatens people’s livelihoods. Applicant tracking systems, designed to filter through resumes without human input, is becoming an increasingly popular option for employers. As one who has worked with applicant tracking systems in my job search, I can honestly say they are inefficient and borderline useless. As these systems rely on keywords, they are extraordinarily rigid and unable to figure out that words such as “edited” and “editing” refer to the same concept. A human mind, in its flexibility, can figure out when skills can be transferred. A robot, enslaved to its programming, can not. This causes employers to overlook qualified candidates due to the candidate not using the correct keyword. It is a small wonder that employers now complain about a labor shortage! Applicant tracking systems also jeopardize the jobs of human resources specialists whose job is to look through potential employee’s resumes.

Blue collar jobs are very much at risk due to automation. Manufacturing-once the beating heart of many ordinary American communities-has seen severe job loss due to the rise in automation. Eighty-five percent of the five point six million manufacturing jobs lost between 2000 and 2010 were due to automation. Company heads may boast that robots produce more-indeed production has gone up-but what of the human cost?

Blue collar workers, bereft of their traditional manufacturing jobs, could rely on retail jobs for a time. This may be coming to an end. Wal-Mart cut seven-thousand jobs due to automation in 2016. These were positions such as cashiers, replaced by self-checkout. As of 2018, Walmart has doubled its use of self-checkout.

Without manufacturing or retail, where will average people work?

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