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Robots versus humans

Convenience will abound. Accuracy will increase. And, jobs will change.

As humanity hurtles into the future of Artificial Intelligence, the most frightening notion of robots doing our work is that we won’t be doing it. Or will we?

Futurists, businesspeople, scientists disagree and they are just guessing about how smart machines will change the world, but agree robots will make a tremendous change. We can even see this in the recent past.

For example, the invention of the ATM, a robot, put an automated bank teller on every corner, creating convenience for people. It also created jobs since humans had to create the ATM, tend it, and install it. Meanwhile, there were fewer human bank tellers needed to dispense cash. Even with the new convenience of ATMs, use of that robot declined. Why? The debit card has made cash nearly obsolete. The widespread use of debit cards changed the use of robots. There are fewer robot ATMs on the corner and more of them in tiny little boxes on the retail counter. Again, the technology created convenience and people’s demand for ATMs changed.

Technology and the convenience or usefulness that it creates changes needs in the labor market, but it also creates a need for labor. At the same time, robots could lower prices of goods, according to the Los Angeles Times, making it possible for humans to live comfortably on less money.

Many observers contend that robots won’t take jobs, but they will change them.

“Technology will dramatically change the nature of our jobs, but it won’t take them. Rather, it will free up individuals to focus on higher value challenges that can only be tackled by a human mind.” writes Information Age editorial director Ben Rossi.

The CEO of a robotic company, David Lang, says, “Robots aren’t taking the jobs. Technology is changing the spectrum of possibility. The real risk in the next economy is not being replaced, it’s missing the opportunity.”

Steven Rosenbaum, writing for Forbes, says one of the dangers of robots is that, without the human element, one loses the elements of surprise, engagement, and fun.

“The danger of allowing robots to do the work of humans is that they are getting close enough that people will start to accept almost ‘good enough’ content created by robots,” Rosenbaum writes.

Rosenbaum proposes that a new rule of robotics should be that robots should never impersonate people.

“For the foreseeable future – the question of where humans and robots share joint custody of the future remains unclear. But until then, having robots not impersonate people seems like a reasonable place to draw the line,” he writes.

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