Speaking at the recent Davos economic conference – widely considered to be the elite economic forum to discuss trends and political strategy – an expert in artificial intelligence and machine learning, Jeremy Howard, had some stunning announcements that indicate a major shift in employment is set to occur very soon.
As Howard states in the video below, we have hit a critical threshold where machine intelligence is performing better than even the leading experts in the fields of medicine, science, and banking among others. This has vast ramifications, as this crossover coincides also with the replacement of skilled and non-skilled human labor with robots. Between the two events, people from all economic classes are being threatened with replacement in an unprecedented way. It is being called technological unemployment – a type of permanent unemployment that greatly exacerbates our current recession/depression, because the lost jobs most likely will never return.
Howard asserts that we are about to encounter conditions akin to those that occurred after the Industrial Revolution replaced manufacturing and agricultural workers to a vast degree. That event, in fact, gave rise to the term technological unemployment. Much maligned economist, John Maynard Keynes, was the first to issue dire predictions of a type of extinction level event for unemployment, which we now clearly know never fully took place. However, the new type of automation poses a far greater threat, according to many researchers such as Jeremy Howard. The main reason is simple: this time it is all-encompassing; in other words, everyone can be replaced … permanently.
This has led to predictions such as those made by Professor of Computer Science, Moshe Vardi, when he stated that all human work will be fully outsourced to robots and robotic machine intelligence by 2045. But we need to keep in mind that this is not some sort of overnight switch that gets thrown; it is happening right now, as technology is already killing middle class jobs.
In the video below, Jeremy Howard gives very precise, concrete examples that show just how far machine intelligence has advanced, and the threat that it poses for human productivity and employment.
Particularly interesting is his reference to a map showing which countries are service-based economies, juxtaposed with the fact that America has become 65% based on information technology and processing. Both sets are the jobs slated for direct replacement by machine systems that are in some cases already more efficient, lower cost and more accurate than any human. And, unlike humans, machine learning is exponentially increasing its “intelligence” on a yearly basis. This situation creates a scenario as bad as or potentially much worse than the Industrial Revolution, when after the shift 80% of workers were worse off socio-economically.
Howard’s final graphic is a stunning one that shows a 15-year flat-line, and now downward slide of human value vs. overall productivity. This can only mean one thing: we are already being outsourced, and the pace is accelerating.
Dire predictions aside, there are ways to position oneself for the coming transformation without merging with machines, as Transhumanists suggest, or turning over the running of society to a centralized hive system of political and economic management as Zeitgeist proponents endorse.
For a look at the areas where one can still thrive, please view this essential documentary. It’s long, but the path for the unprepared will be far longer.
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Nicholas West is a staff contributor at Activist Post.