A recommendation to watch a new movie.
A car that drives independently.
A Smartphone app that analyzes traffic patterns and drive times.
The reality is, that as consumers we love automated, intelligent technology. If we are honest, we want our technology to be smart, to work fast and to think ahead. We also want our technology to surprise us with options customized to our personal interests, proposing ideas we may have never considered before. And that’s exactly why artificial intelligence has been embraced by the masses. Consumers love the concierge-like service artificial intelligence provides. It’s as if artificial intelligence has created personal assistants for the everyday individuals.
But there’s always a catch, right? For things we love and want more of, we also have some hesitations and concerns about “too much of a good thing.” Those hesitations have evolved into a fear of artificial intelligence. Consumers – while they enjoy the results of artificial intelligence – still carry a fear of the unknown, of the existential threat and of fully trusting AI capabilities.
Scared of what we don’t know
It’s the unknown that makes consumers start to panic when thinking of the future of artificial intelligence, how it will evolve, and what society will look like because of that evolution. But, society had the same panic attack in the 1960s when personal computers were made available. While intrigued by the ability to store large volumes of data or balance a budget, consumers thought personal computers were the beginning of a takeover. Subconsciously, it’s this fear of the potential sci-fi overlord taking charge and humans becoming obsolete that gives us pause. But that reality is slim.
We cannot give artificial intelligence that much credit, because artificial intelligence is based on very narrow, specific algorithms. Yes, artificial intelligence is being used to create our calendars, our budgets and our recommendations for food, entertainment and products. And, although mainstream buzz would have you believe otherwise, none of those algorithms are general, overarching intelligence, which means the algorithms cannot cross multiple disciplines and they certainly cannot replace the human consciousness.
Scared of the existential threat
But, what if I become unemployable? What if my skill set becomes obsolete to the workforce?
Those are the questions that many murmur quietly when thinking about artificial intelligence. As much as we love the automation that has been created for our personal lives, artificial intelligence has generated equal amounts of fear for many professionals. And that fear is real and warranted —to an extent— when you think about professions such as personal assistants or rote data analysts. The automation of artificial intelligence has gone after a new batch of white collar, sophisticated jobs that require advanced degrees.
However, although more jobs will be automated, the reality is that AI technology still cannot replace certain human elements – long-term strategic thinking, decisions of personal value, and ethical rationale. Humans have the ability to analyze multiple problems and prioritize each problem against different variables for the long-term; it’s a layer of logic and flexibility that artificial intelligence is incapable of producing. Furthermore, personal value and ethical decisions are intrinsically human concepts.
To keep yourself ahead of artificial intelligence and ensure it stays away from replacing your job, you must find ways to elevate the role you are fulfilling in the workplace. You won’t be safe if you just focus on menial, short-term, mental tasks. Instead, look for ways to broaden your horizons and join larger conversations. Analyze business results, add in those human factors and think about the personal implications, ethical impacts, and long-term priorities.
Scared to fully trust AI technology
Artificial intelligence is being embedded in more applications than ever before, and it seems there is no stopping it. Society has embraced AI applications for the increased productivity and quality of life it can offer. But, can artificial intelligence really be trusted? The simple answer is yes. Artificial intelligence is just a complicated statistical analysis in layman’s terms. We know the inputs and the datasets being analyzed; therefore, we can trust the results being produced. But we cannot blindly trust.
Consider a healthcare diagnosis generated from artificial intelligence. The technology and its insights are valuable, but if a diagnosis is inaccurate the responsibility still falls on the shoulders of the healthcare provider. Similarly, if a portfolio manager trusts artificial intelligence solely and makes poor financial investment decisions for retirees, the responsibility is on the portfolio manager, not a group of coders.
There is still an ethical responsibility and need for human oversight that must accompany AI algorithms, and expert-feedback will be a new and evolving role as AI enters more complex fields.
Are you still scared of artificial intelligence? I hope not because the reality is that AI is valuable and beneficial to society; it cannot replace the need for human intelligence and oversight. Jobs have always been created and lost because of new technology, but as long as you can adapt and find your piece in the puzzle, you have more to gain than fear.