Tierney and Technology – The Future of Automation

Many companies are rolling out new policies for interacting with artificial intelligence. Some of these new policies and training efforts list assurances that the technology should be viewed as a way to enhance productivity, and not as a means for eliminating current jobs. 

Presumably, this is an effort to avoid panic. How the affected employee perceives the new direction may stand in stark contrast with the presented policies. A quick glance at the latest bulk of technology Layoffs would give someone pause.

Automation isn’t coming around the bend, it is already here. It has been here for quite a long time. New applications, advancement in computing and processing power along with creative changes in robotics are ongoing. AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) may soon be or already is a reality.

The idea that AI and robotics will create more jobs than they eliminate seems counterproductive. Yes, job functions may change and new jobs may be created. This has always been the case throughout history. Things change. We take that as a simple fact. Desirable skill sets may replace skill sets that are no longer required or reduce the amount of work that was previously done by such antiquated skill sets.

The workforce will change

Unfortunately, some skill sets may slowly disappear and be forgotten. As luck would have it – Machines don’t require the same working conditions or any of the usual job benefits a typical worker might be provided by their employer. Converting from manual labor or human labor to machine labor will have a cost. This cost may be offset by production increases, efficiency, and savings. You can see how this would be very attractive to many companies, institutions, and government agencies.

None of this is breaking news. If you’re reading this, you already know it. The old sales pitch that the “quality of life will go up” will be repeated and repeated and repeated until it is the only narrative or at least the only official narrative

Just looking a short distance in the future isn’t really that interesting. looking farther down the road, Let’s say 100 years – this is where I would suspect the world would look much different than it does today or that it did in the early 1900s. I’ve seen and heard so many predictions of great things to come from autonomous commuting to long-lasting alternative energy battery-powered robots that look and act like humans.

“AI sees all it knows all – will always be available for the betterment of man” a promising development for sure.

We’ve read it in our science fiction literature and movies from the early 50s. These ideas are not new. What is new is that recently things seem to be ramping up. What was at first – just a slow burn is now becoming mainstream. There will be turmoil, there will be resentment, there will be many who will feel threatened and push back against these changes but there will also be many who embrace it. A few generations down the road total automation, prolific robotics, and intrusive monitoring will all seem very common and perfectly normal.

I’ve always suspected this was the direction the world would go. Am I adequately prepared? Probably not. Very few are. Do I fear complex automation, artificial intelligence robotics? I do not – in fact, I appreciate the technological advancements which have brought this about. What I’m not so sure about is how the next generation of AI and robotics will be designed and or built. So if AI develops the next generation of itself, will it be linearly and exponentially accelerated to a point where only the advanced processing power of another even more advanced machine can repair, let alone direct the future control parameters that would ensure certain safety controls humanity might need for its very own survival?

For those who are about to lose their livelihood to advances in robotics and artificial intelligence and other forms of automation, the challenges may be a bit unsettling. For the argument that AI will enhance rather than replace most jobs – I agree that it would be believable only in the short term. I do not believe that to be the case in the long term. If AI is actually helping you do your job now – it shouldn’t be long before these “enhancements“ will do the job without you. The ability to move on to another form of work, job, or position will be a skill most will need. Versatility, the ability to adapt, and the ability to learn will be useful future skills.

If you do most of your job, talking on a phone, attending teleconferences, or writing letters with a computer or some form of interaction that could be done remotely You may want to start considering your future options.

If you do the work on a computer consider the potential for AI to take over that task at some point.

For a while, humans will need to check validate and verify what AI produces or how robots do certain tasks. I’ve read that management positions could be the best job to have in the future. To some extent this seems believable, but I don’t think it pertains to current forms of management. Expect an entirely new set of standards, policies, and directives that are focused more on executing prepackaged directives and not following individualistic management styles. This will be the first of many small steps towards the eventual dominance by machines…..maybe.

Do we say goodbye to all white-collar jobs? Not all, but most for sure, probably sooner than later. There will in the long term remain a need for some of the most knowledgeable, the highest skilled, and the most productive workers.

So what do we do now?

First I would suggest learning a little about artificial intelligence and robotics. Look at how these systems are built and put together. learn as much as you can about a variety of computer systems not just the new systems that are out there now with high-level languages but look back through history at older systems. Look at lower-level languages and look back at where a lot of this started. If we truly fear what we do not understand, then try to understand. The future isn’t written in stone, so maybe this will not be relevant at some point. Everything can change. This doesn’t mean that you don’t think about what can happen. If you have a skill that can’t be done by robots or artificial intelligence, a craft, a niche specialty, it is something that someone else needs or wants you’re probably in a good position for a while. 

Some human work will soon have to report and function under the direction of AI. Some machines will be instructed what to do by other machines and some lesser machines will work for people. I don’t think it will be just one or the other. I think it will be a mix as to whether or not machines or robots will eventually attain human consciousness or a soul I wouldn’t rule it out. Why not?
it’s very difficult to disprove anything that is not easily validated to all in the first place. Maybe there will be a robot god and a machine religion at some point. If machines have the ability to be creative then don’t rule it out.

We have most surely built in our own insecurities, poorly scaled calculations, all kinds of negativities, and frailty into the new system information that will be used in some of the large language models – Thus the potential for there to be corrupt or erroneous data will presumably ensure some level of unwanted mistakes. There will always be some level of data cleansing needed. Who is to say certain bits of information that we think are good or accurate actually are? These beliefs may not remain regarded as so. What we now consider to be true in the future might only be considered an opinion as such proclamations don’t hold up against intense scrutiny.

Our long-regarded facts may prove later to be built on faults or fantasy. The idea of rewriting, literature, or rewriting past historical information based on the popular view of the moment probably won’t mix well within these large language models. This will require some level of unbiased oversight. We will need someone or something to sift through all the presented information, tediously, as well as any extruded output. Will this be accomplished effectively or will it present an overwhelming task for mere mortals? Should we just rely on the processing power of machines to do all such tedious work for us and tell us what is real and what is not real? Will we get so dependent on intelligent machines that we don’t even trust ourselves or are we already at that point now?

I imagine religious beliefs and certain customs will throw a curveball into any perception of man-to-machine interaction. The future, or the pending future will be very interesting. I say interesting. I don’t think it’ll be unwelcoming or any more frightening than what any future would be. There are many other tensions going on now, and they will still be going on for some time. AI and robotics won’t fix everything. The idea of a computer-controlled utopia seems very very far-fetched, not impossible, but not attainable in the near future. So relax and use your mind. If you can think for yourself – truly think for yourself, you will have an advantage over those who can’t or won’t.

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