Can Robots Replace Humans?
25 years ago a blockbuster “Terminator” predicted to a humanity a war with robots. It was so convincing that many people have interpreted this story as the most likely forecast and a reason for serious fears. These days robots and artificial intelligence are far from the military confrontation with people or conscious capture of any systems. However, it is commonly believed that instead of taking our lives, robots will take our jobs. In his article ‘As Robots Threaten More Jobs, Human Skills Will Save Us’, Mohanbir Sawhney writes that according to Oxford University 47% of a US job market is at risk because of computerization. Moreover, McKinsey Global Institute research predicts that ‘45% of job activities can be automated, and 30% of workers face the prospect that at least 60% of their work content can be done by machines.’ Although these records are very impressive, I believe that jobs are not at risk of being replaced by digital technology and robots because AI will create much more job positions than it eliminates; robots are not as clever as humans are; technology cannot replace the human touch.
Since the times of the First Industrial Revolution, there has been no precedent when the advancement of technology increased the level of unemployment. In his work ‘Capital’, Karl Marx predicted that mechanization would lead to a reduction in a labor market. At first glance, it seems that there is no doubt in the accuracy of his opinion: an automatic drilling machine can drill 400 holes per hour, unlike a person who can drill only 40. It means that one machine can replace ten people. However, something different has happened: the nature of employment has changed. For example, a percentage of employment in the U.S. in agriculture have decreased from 81% to 31% in 1910 over a hundred years. What is more, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking who predict massive unemployment because of machines, might also be wrong. Let’s look at the example with a drilling machine. If this new technology is able to replace 10 workers, then people will be required to produce drilling machines. Those who previously drilled holes manually will now produce machines. In addition, the machine will require steel. It must also be smelted by someone, etc. We have observed such processes throughout the history of humanity. For instance, the emergence of the car Model T by Ford has reduced the need for blacksmiths, but much more workforce was needed to build roads and make tires. Referring to the article ‘ Why Robots Will Not Take Over Human Jobs?’ by Andrew Arnold, a study from Gartner Research states that by 2020 around 1.8 million jobs will be lost and 2.3 million will be created. I believe, that robots will replace low-paying, boring, routine work and will create jobs positions that do not exist today. For instance, people who will construct robots, software developers, maintenance experts, etc. From my point of view, this change in a job market will help to improve the overall economy.
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One more reason why machines cannot replace human jobs is that people are smarter than robots. Contrary to all programming achievements, robots did not become truly smart: they are still ‘cans’ with a narrow specialization. They do not know how to act according to circumstances, poorly adapted for work together with people, but they are coping with monotonous actions and maintain a perfect quality of work even after thousands of the same approaches. In other words, robots can only do particular tasks according to the algorithm. Andrew Arnold writes, ‘humans are in control and the technology providing what it is programmed to provide.’ In case of any deviations from ‘white and black ‘ AI will shift the decision to people. Everywhere, where robots have to deal with unpredictable people, the technology sooner or later fails. Even voice assistants instead of living professionals in the call center cannot become popular. Cellular operators continue to spend money on people who solve problems more effectively, than AI. What is more, self-driving cars have not become independent. They were stuffed with ultrasound, radar, and binocular sensors; they were taught to understand the driving rules, however, self-driving cars are still more dangerous on public roads than, for example, low-paid, without perfect vision and opportunity to see the road to all 180 degrees of public transport drivers.
Finally, as believed by Arnold, technology cannot replace the need for teamwork, leadership, creative thinking, problem-solving. Even when robots and AI will become much more powerful, there are still many things that are not able to do. For example, creativity, new ideas, exploration of the world, art, science, entertainment, caring for others. A robot would never become a psychologist, a musician, an artist or a singer. ‘Can a robot write a symphony? Can a robot turn a canvas into a beautiful masterpiece? questioned Will Smith in the movie ‘I, Robot’. I claim, that the answer is most likely no. In addition, people need each other. Performing a solution or analyzing data is a job for robots. But who will talk to people, helping to make the right decision? People still want to deal with a person in some instances.