AI taking your jobs is good news: Terems’ Scott Middleton

22 Sep 2017 by Scott Middleton

Artificial intelligence taking your job is good news and will enable people to do creative work, focus on relationships and have a more enjoyable time at work, says chief executive of software developer Terems’ Scott Middleton.

Mr Middleton said artificial intelligence or “AI” was an inevitable next step in the broader industrial revolution.

He said general artificial intelligence was too far off for practical use, because we will not have the right hardware at the right price until 2020.

He said instead businesses should focus on “narrow AI”, such as spreadsheets, chatbots and algorithms, that are already being used by companies like Netflix and Amazon.

“AI is here right now, it’s not a far off concept. And it’s happening in the workplace,” Mr Middleton told The Australian Financial Review Innovation Summit on Tuesday.

“AI is not far off, it’s just the next layer of automation,” he said.

He gave example of how photography jobs have changed since the early 1990s. He said the number of photographic developers and printers declined but the number of photographers has increased, which shows how automation and innovation allow people to focus on creative work.

Kaila Colbin, New Zealand ambassador of Silicon Valley think tank Singularity University, said automation and subsequent loss of jobs have been happening for a long time but the emergence of AI posed threats for jobs that humans were traditionally considered to be more capable at.

She said inventions such as AI lawyer “Ross” and chatbot which contested 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York – presents threats for humans.

 “They’re starting to become so good they’re encroaching upon the domains that are the exclusive purview of humans,” she said.

In the next 20 years, between 47 and 81 per cent of jobs as we currently understand are likely to be under threat from technological developments, she said.

In Australia, 40 per cent of jobs are estimated to be under threat from technology in the next 10 to 20 years, she said.

However, artificial intelligence can also provide huge opportunities, she said, with societies building the capacity to provide free education, healthcare and energy.

 She said image recognition was something that “computers have always been terrible at and humans have excelled at”, but computers are developing better capability for image recognition, which could be applied to develop better medical diagnostic capabilities.

This article originally appeared in the Financial Review, written by Misa Han

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