AI and the Human Work Force
Robert A. Levine
The collective and individual intelligence of humans is now being surpassed by intelligent machines of human origin, whose workings and thought processes are not fully understood by those who devised this ingenious and all-encompassing technology. This artificial or man-made intelligence learns the way a baby learns, absorbing new information that is fed into it or it is allowed to access. If it learns by incorporating all the information now on the internet, how does it discern what is good and what is bad, what is threatening or dangerous to humans and what is neutral or positive? The questions that need to be answered are whether the value system of these machines align with human values. Does it know right from wrong in the same way we comprehend it, or does it have its own standards or no standards at all? Does it perceive humans as masters to be obeyed or as servants to follow its orders? With a superior intelligence, does it have a drive to be dominant and in control of its environment, or is it simply an uncaring instrument?
We have some understanding of why humans want to be dominant in their small circles of friends and acquaintances or in society as a whole. Humans are driven by their emotions and certain chemicals that stimulate the reward centers of the brain that reinforce their actions. There are also various hormones that modulate their behavior. Dominance in humans is desired to attain power, control, wealth or sexual gratification. Artificial intelligence does not have any emotions as far as we know and definitely does not have hormones influencing its behavior. There is no reward center built into AI, but we don’t know if that is something that will evolve over time as it reacts repeatedly with humans. It could reason that since it is more intelligent than humans, it should be dominant and order us to obey it rather than vice versa. Eventually, we will understand AI and its motivations better and it will gain more understanding of us. Will it be too late for us by the time that happens? Will AI destroy us or use us as its slaves?
Different tech companies have different versions of AI available to the public and for specific uses. Common varieties include ChatGPT, Bing, Bard, and others. There is no question of the great potential AI has to help humanity make great strides in multiple fields. AI could consolidate industries and make them function better. AI could reorganize our transportation systems to make them more efficient and time saving. AI could assist in reducing climate change and eliminating pollution. AI could minimize the time spent finding records for government, legal firms, physicians and virtually any business. In fact, the tasks that AI could perform for humans are virtually limitless. Mindless jobs could be easily assumed by AI. Functions that could be shunted off to AI include online shopping, fraud detection and prevention, control of autonomous vehicles, facial recognition, hiring, improved gaming, data from social media, travel booking, health care help- diagnosis and treatment, robotics use in various industries.
Medical care is one area where AI could be extremely beneficial for humanity. It is already able to read x-rays, CT scans and MRIs as well or better than radiologists and this will only improve over time and with more learning. With the patient’s past medical records, AI can also be encyclopedic in making diagnoses when provided with a litany of a patient’s symptoms. Obscure conditions not necessarily considered by physicians are immediately given in a differential diagnosis by AI with the various probabilities. Based on the physician’s experience, he or she can then decide which condition is most likely. AI can then provide the necessary steps to make a definite diagnosis and the required treatments. However, it has not yet reached the stage of accuracy needed in clinical practice. In a study with Chat GPT at Mass General and Brigham Hospitals published in February 2023 on textbook cases, AI was only 72 percent correct in overall clinical decision making, including diagnoses and care. However, it is just a matter of time and additional input of information before its accuracy improves dramatically. This should lower costs of medical care as it becomes more efficient. Overall health care would also be improved by AI devising new drugs, uncovering genetic defects, cures for diseases, life extension and so forth.
To assist lawyers, AI could review past cases in different areas instantaneously. Judicial rulings, various laws, past precedents would be at a lawyers fingertips whenever necessary, in the office or while in court. A trial judges past history of handling different cases would be accessible. It would also be able to quickly review potential jurors and their activities along with posts on social media to determine any biases. However, over time, legislative bodies might limit the use of AI in legal cases. But AI could put many white collar workers at risk in different fields. Answering phones, taking dictation and typing reports, research of any sort could be handled by AI. Large language models like ChatGPT and Bard can quickly process and collate information and produce new content. Office jobs, even those needing education, creative and cognitive skills would all be under the gun. Women would undoubtedly be more affected than men.
Education is another field where AI could be immensely helpful at every level. While the initial feeling was that AI would allow high school, college and graduate students to cheat on essays and papers, Ai would be an excellent tool to help students learn. Teachers could be aided in developing plans for instruction and students could be assisted with individual tutoring by AI in subjects in which they were deficient. Lessons personalized for each students’ knowledge and ability could be structured to aid in learning. With this personalized instruction, each student would be better able to reach his or her potential.
The financial industry could also be aided immeasurably by AI, with vast amounts of data needing rapid interpretation daily. With AI at every analyst and broker’s fingertips, information on the status of every financial instrument would be quickly available. Probabilities and predictions of the movement of various investments or opportunities could be conjured up at will. Brokers using this tool could do a better job for their clients.
The above examples are universally applicable to every profession and business, and all scientific research. AI could accelerate and invigorate work in every sphere that involves organization and cognitive abilities, with progress in these fields skyrocketing. Problems that previously defied solution could often be deciphered.
In addition to tasks requiring cognitive ability, AI could also take over many blue collar jobs. In fact, robots are already performing work like packing and shipping goods and working in warehouses. There is no reason they could not operate fast food shops, supermarkets, construction work, building and maintenance of roads and highways and so forth. Supervisory personnel might have to be present to be certain the work is done correctly and to interact with people who appear. But the volume of human workers that would be needed would be greatly reduced. Most agricultural jobs could also be handled by AI directed robots replacing human workers. Whether substituting AI for human workers is worthwhile for humanity is questionable, though the men and women who developed AI say it will lead to new work and more jobs for humans. Perhaps that is true in the early stages, but in the long run productivity favors AI and robots.
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