You’ve asked yourself this question at least once: are robots going to take our jobs? Walk our dogs? Eat our crisps?
British theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking recently spoke out on the matter underlining how Computers will take over humans with Artificial Intelligence in the next 100 years.
Regardless of the fact that most of us won’t be there in hundred years, it still is an interesting display of a society on its early steps towards this technological evolution. The real question here lies on whether this is good news or terrible news that depict a movie-like scenario painted with “Robots go home” protest signs.
What do you mean by ‘robot’?
It really depends on what your definition of a robot is. Most people think of robots as anthropomorphic or humanoid creatures. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as: “a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer.” This could include your smartphone, your self-driving car, or any smart household device.
But this isn't cars, iPhones or microwaves we’re fussing about. What Stephen Hawking is telling us through his robotic voice machine is that Artificial Intelligence is no longer simply science-fiction. Robots will soon be able to make decisions, understand complex tasks and do a lot more work. Yes, work. Your work? Probably.
Now, before we throw our Nest thermostat out of the window in a luddite panic, we need to take a step back and look at the job landscape on a complete different timeframe: jobs like IT engineers, call centre specialists, auto repairs and Zumba instructors didn’t even exist 100 years ago, not to mention information accessibility and technology usage. Skyping grandma for free from your phone? Done.
Jobs change, the type of work we do changes and how we do it changes too. If printers are becoming 3D printers, farmers will become urban agriculturalists, architects will become augmented reality architects and so on.
We can easily keep daydreaming about lightsaber instructors and other potential jobs of the future, but the point is: human wants and needs are ever changing and infinite, meaning that there will always be new work to do.
"There is no future in any job. The future lies in the person who holds the job.” - George W. Crane
Who You Callin' Stoopid?
But there’s more! Regardless of how intelligent these robots might become, something that goes beyond intelligence, that has no formula or logic, is key to meatbag* success. I’m speaking of creativity, ideas and those sparks of genius that really make a difference. This is truly what makes us human: a mix of intelligence and creativity, of brains and heart, that robots will never truly be able to achieve.
*For anyone who doesn’t watch Futurama, a meatbag is what robots call humans.