Experts warn that an artificial intelligence “job cup hype” could be looming as almost a billion jobs could be replaced by machines.
Tech chiefs have sounded the alarm as the world is rapidly embracing the evolving space that already allows some tasks to be done entirely by a machine.
By some estimates, nearly a billion jobs will be lost — up to 800 million jobs are at risk from automation, according to an earlier estimate by the Mckinsey Global Institute.
Professor Nigel Crook, founder of the Ethical AI Institute at Oxford Brookes University, said the number sounded worryingly realistic – and warned there would be a “profound impact” on the job market.
Professor Neil McArthur, director of the Center for Professional and Applied Ethics, added the world is unprepared for the changes to come.
And both agreed that AI and robots will be better at their jobs than humans – further highlighting the need for massive societal reshaping due to technology.
“I think that’s something we should be concerned about, I really am,” Professor Crook told The Sun.
“These technologies are going into areas that would normally require human-to-human contact.
“You have to think about what the long-term impact that could be if people don’t interact with each other on both a social and professional level.”
The esteemed professor – and author of Rise Of The Moral Machine – said the world will be surprised at which professions are on the brink first, as AI may replace lawyers and some doctors.
“AI algorithms are already being developed to do a lawyer’s job, for example to check contracts,” he told The Sun Online.
And while 800 million jobs lost may sound like an unimaginably large number, Crook suggested that number may be more realistic than we know.
“800 million jobs lost sounds a lot – but it could be of this magnitude,” he said.
“Adding it to what’s already happened before I see we could go in that direction, I can believe it.”
“Applications of the technology are just beginning and I think the impact is huge.”
And he warned that the tasks done by humans could be done cheaper and better by AI.
“So it could be that people who were once secure in their job will find that AI is able to do it much cheaper, potentially more accurately, potentially more effectively.”
And Professor McArthur agreed, saying, “There will be fewer of us.”
He followed up the warning by emphasizing that we were mentally unprepared for what was to come as no one could have foreseen how quickly AI would come for the “brain workers”.
“There’s a whole group of people who are completely amazed at the impact it’s going to have on their work — and I think we’re still figuring that out.”
McArthur then went on to explain that for every job humans do, there are things AI can either do for them or help them.
But he believes this can be used as an advantage and as a tool to actually increase worker productivity.
“Everyone should take a look at their own job and ask themselves, ‘Are there things AI can do to help me?'”
According to the World Economic Forum, AI could displace 85 million jobs worldwide by 2025.
But to achieve this surreal level of job losses, Crook explained that it will happen in three phases – and we are already at the beginning of the third phase.
The first wave included industrial environments with repetitive jobs targeted by AI, such as factory workers.
“Robotics has had a tremendous impact on employment in this sector,” Crook said.
The second wave hit administrative functions, with HR staff traded for digital “resume filters” as companies adopt algorithms and machine learning tools that are now able to make decisions and make recommendations.
But now, Crook claims we are in the early stages of the third wave, where generative AI is able to create new content and materials in the form of text, stories, program code, images and sound.
“I think there’s definitely reason to be concerned about this third wave,” he said.
“We will come up with new ways of working, we have to.”
In statistics on how many million jobs are likely to disappear over the next three decades, the professor claimed that “the end of the 9-5 workday is probably in sight.”
But that destruction can be avoided through education, Crook said.
“Companies need to help their employees understand how the technology works and what impact it might have on them – that, to me, is key.”
He added, “Companies need to think about the implications of using this type of technology for their workforce… we will inevitably see a decline in the workforce.”
However, AI expert Dmitry Tokar, CEO and co-founder of tech company Zadarma, was less concerned – but predicted the need for more regulation.
“I do not recommend overestimating the impact. Changes can be slower due to normal inertia,” he said.
“An opportunity missed, another found. The labor market is constantly changing and new jobs usually replace old ones. The fastest changes have come in 2020 and we are doing fine.”
He added: “AI is helping to increase the value of human labor. Not everyone wants to use AI to engage with AI, and many people will choose to pay more for human labor.”
“It can become a luxury. It’s like the diamond, anyone can buy artificial diamonds for 50 euros, but for thousands of euros most prefer natural diamonds.”
He added: “In the future there could be regulation of the use of AI in politics, in the army and restrictions on the networking of different AI models.”
This comes after Professor Crook spoke to The Sun in April about how AI and ChatGPT are already at the human level and humans are on their way to losing touch with reality.