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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Slow Death of Jobs for People

We've gotten a strong preview of the future in the last few years. Jobs lost during the last recession have simply disappeared to a great extent. And, despite the proclamations of optimists that new jobs will arise to replace those lost, the facts of the matter argue strongly that, over the next few decades, virtually all jobs for people will simply disappear, never to be replaced.

It's hard for some people to accept a new paradigm. All of their experience tells them it must not be so. In many cases, a healthy skepticism toward the idea that “it's different this time” is good. Yet, to argue that the trend is toward higher levels of unemployment isn't real is to argue that the sun won't rise tomorrow. Increasingly, artificial intelligence is on the rise — and it's destroying jobs for people.

There is really no limit to artificial intelligence despite what many people think. We are in the early decades of what will be a long march of increasingly intelligent machines. At some point, that progression will lead to machines that are equal to or greater than human intelligence. To deny that possibility can only be done using irrational hope that this trend will stop at some point. But, it is happening and the future will look increasingly bleak for jobs for people.

Dick Pelletier delves into some of these issues in Jobs, humans, and machines: Implications for society:

Economist Kim Shin-hwan at South Korea's Hyundai Research Institute says, "By 2015, robots should be able to assist teachers in the classroom. By 2018, they should be able to teach on their own, and this will cause many teachers to lose their jobs."

What kind of quality would a teaching machine provide? Because of its more powerful mind and perfect memory, many future followers believe it could be superior to a human teacher. Though early robots appear clumsy and crude, experts predict that future versions by 2018 will become competent instructors.

In healthcare, computer programs are already wielding a positive impact. Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, describes in a YouTube video how patient-focused technology is improving medicine. In other examples, the Artificial Neural Network helps Mayo Clinic doctors diagnose cardiac patients, many websites provide free medical advice; and TV ads often disclose critical data.

The ultimate tool to replace doctors though, could be the nanorobot, a tiny microscopic-size machine that can whiz through veins replacing aging and damaged cells with new youthful ones. This nanowonder with expected development time of mid-to-late 2030s could eliminate nearly all need for human doctors.

Even government jobs may be taken over by automatons. The recent U.S. Congress debate over finances, expose the inadequacies of human governing when members stubbornly refuse to consider opponents views. Experts believe artificial intelligence systems, circa 2040s, would avert these debacles.

We are going to have to, sooner or later, confront the new reality that jobs are one of those obsolete concepts, at least for people.