AI and robotics is not the solution for all

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(Image credit: Jamie Carter)

Automation, through robotics and AI, is creating a lot of fear in the industry with the big debate whether humans will be replaced by robots. Technology will eliminate many jobs, of course, as it has done so during the last three industrial revolutions.

In this fourth industrial revolution there will be repetitive jobs that will be replaced by AI and robotics but it will also create new jobs that we can’t currently imagine. According to research firm Gartner, 1.8 million jobs will be lost by 2020 and 2.3 million new ones will be created.

Many have claimed that robots will take over the jobs of doctors, teachers, scientists and lawyers, but will they? Will robots be able to match a number of fundamental human skills?

Kevin Dallas, Corporate Vice-President of AI and Intelligent Cloud Business Development at Microsoft, told TechRadar Middle East recently that there are certain roles that require creativity, imagination and emotion, and these are human-type roles that can’t be done by AI and robotics.

“When you get down to the function-specific, task-specific, domain-specific roles, these are roles that are optimised really for AI. So, if you look at scientists, doctors, teachers and caregivers, this is the human side of the equation, because you need their soft skills. When it comes to repetitive tasks and optimisation tasks within a function such as customer support, telesales and truck driving, these are the types of jobs you will see moving towards AI over time,” he said.

However, he said that doctors will work with intelligent assistants to research information or conduct the first scan of the patient to make a recommendation, but the doctor will actually interface with a person and give a personal experience. Same is the case for lawyers; he said and added that AI and robotics are not the solution for all.

“How would you take those gifts of humans and be able to couple that with this huge power of artificial intelligence to move society forward and make life better for humans. How would you solve that problem? And that is where we as a company is really focused,” he said.

Gradual shift

Megha Kumar, research director for software at International Data Corporation, said that humans and technology will work together to augment the problem.

“It is a gradual shift in the world of technology adoption. AI and robotics will create new jobs and, at the same time, lose jobs.  Many companies are retraining their employees for new roles,” she said.

Robots have become intelligent, increasing overall operational efficiency and agility to organisations in the ongoing digital transformation journeys, she said.

According to IDC, global spending on artificial intelligence systems is forecast to reach $35.8 billion in 2019, an increase of 44 per cent compared to a year ago. In the Mideast and Africa, the AI investment is expected to be $263 million this year compared to $200 million last year and expected to grow between 25 per cent and 30 per cent annually.

But Kumar does not expect robots to have human intelligence in the near future. “Scientifically, it can become a reality but I don’t see it in the near future because it needs a lot of quality data to be processed and wide access to power and compute.  There is a high chance of robots augmenting humans’ skillset. Robots may be able to do it in a better perfection but humans can detect the anomalies which a robot can’t,” she said.

Humans have a gift

As soon as you get into human capabilities, this is where AI is not a good match; Dallas said and added that it is very difficult for a machine to be able to simulate it.

“When it comes to important things, things that are critical to you, like your health, which is not something you are going to be comfortable purely interfacing with a machine. You will want a human to come in that equation,” he added.

Moreover, he said the reality is humans have a gift and the gift is around emotion, creativity, and imagination.