According to Google X Labs founder and current Udacity Chairman Sebastian Thrun, artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to create “superhuman workers” especially in certain fields that require repetitive work. Thrun recently spoke at the World Government Summit in Dubai where he explained that one of the strongest characteristics of AI lies in its ability to handle repetitive work with ease, so while a medical doctor could greatly benefit from AI, other, more repetitive tasks might be entirely replaced by AI. This has been one of the biggest worries surrounding AI, i.e. the idea that artificial intelligence could make certain jobs obsolete, which is one of the reasons why Elon Musk had previously stated that a universal income might be necessary in the wake of this powerful technology. On the other hand, while Thrun acknowledged the potential of AI to replace certain jobs, he also stated that the emergence of AI should push humans away from a repetitive working society and adopt a more creative mindset “where we invent new things.”
The reality at this particular point in time is that humans don’t necessarily trust AI to handle certain tasks. For example, a recent study had shown that medical patients in Europe and America are reluctant to accept the idea of an AI replacing human doctors; however, at the same time, these patients were fine with nurses being helped by artificial intelligence. Having said that, different jobs and careers will be affected in varying ways by AI, and according to Thrun, some of those jobs that require the most repetitive work will eventually become obsolete. Ideally, people should be able to find new jobs as old ones will be replaced by AI and as human society will be reshaped with a more creative mindset. On the other hand, this view might be a bit too optimistic because not every individual who might lose a job has the necessary creative background in order to create new products or ideas from which human society can benefit.
Either way, AI is becoming more popular and utilized in an increasing number of fields, virtually turning some workers into superhumans, as Thrun suggests. For instance, according to a recent report, Chinese police will employ smart glasses equipped with facial recognition technology during the Lunar New Year in order to scan the crowds for wrongdoers. But as far as this topic is concerned, the biggest worry isn’t that AI will replace police officers in China, but rather that AI used in this manner endangers privacy. The emergence of AI might lead to one of the biggest shifts in the way human society operates, and while the idea of an AI-assisted employee is sound, certain jobs will inevitably be put at a higher risk of becoming obsolete than others.