There has been much talk about artificial intelligence (AI) lately, especially since the arrival of self-driving cars and autonomous trucks that may take away the jobs of millions of workers in the transportation industry. But what exactly is AI? Also known as artificial general intelligence or AGI, this technology involves using algorithms to process information and make decisions in much the same way that human beings do. But does this mean that it will eventually become impossible to trust humans as decision makers? Not necessarily, as there are ways to actually ensure that AI remains subservient to us rather than replacing us altogether.


Robots might take over your job 

Many people are concerned that artificial intelligence (AI) could take over their jobs. This would be devastating for some, but there are also great potentials for people who lose their jobs to robots—namely, that more people will be free to pursue work they truly love. For example, an engineer might spend her days operating machines in a factory until robots can do it better and cheaper than she can. Once she’s out of work, she can use her engineering degree and knowledge to start up a small business making jewelry or pottery or another skill that humans have always excelled at. Whether or not you end up working alongside robots, automation is changing how we do almost everything—including work—and it’s important to get ready.


There are two types of AI

artificial narrow intelligence (ANI) and artificial general intelligence (AGI). ANI refers to a computer system or program designed to perform a very specific function, whereas AGI is more complex. An AGI system would be able to learn and develop new skills on its own over time, making it much more difficult to design. Many experts believe we will reach AGI by 2040, but there’s still no consensus on when it will be built. Some even say that creating an AGI system is impossible because we can’t yet fully understand human cognition or consciousness, which an AGI would need in order to think like us.


Most jobs will be replaced by robots

The rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning is causing a lot of anxiety, but while human-free companies may feel like they’re straight out of The Terminator, there’s no need to fear. Because while robots can do anything humans can do—well, almost—they do have their limitations. For example, you won’t be able to ask a robot why it did something or if it could have done something differently. Humans are creative creatures; we’re capable of thinking outside the box and solving problems in unique ways that simply don’t exist within computer code. In fact, humans will likely continue to thrive in fields like teaching, communications, counseling and other roles that rely on emotional intelligence. At least for now.


Businesses will be impacted most

Robotics and artificial intelligence have already changed how some businesses operate. As they continue to evolve, they will also have a larger impact on employment. The Society for Human Resource Management found that almost 60 percent of human resource professionals expect employers to replace some jobs with robotics over the next five years. Not only that, but 30 percent think automation will replace more than 25 percent of workers’ jobs during that time period. That’s up from 19 percent in 2014 and 17 percent in 2013, according to SHRM.


Humans need to adapt

We can, and will, create more jobs than ever before. But we’ll have to reinvent our skills, and learn new ones that are suited to an increasingly automated world. AI won’t eliminate all human jobs; it will change them, likely forever. Our children might not be able to do things that were once common sense for many adults, but their ability to solve problems creatively will grow exponentially—we just need to show them how by providing access to high-quality education from a young age. The future of work is bright… as long as we don’t decide to leave it in our past.


What governments can do

No matter how good a country’s education system is, it’s hard to teach people everything they need to know in order to contribute to society. We expect too much from our schools—that they can prepare every child for a career that may not even exist. But what if you could program a machine to work like human brain, with its ability to learn on its own and turn expertise into knowledge? That’s exactly what computers are doing today: learning new skills that require years of training in days, turning vast amounts of data into insights instantly and teaching themselves new things all day long.


How individuals can prepare

Although some worry that artificial intelligence will eventually render humans obsolete, it’s hard to imagine that machines will be able to do everything better than humans. Still, smart people are already looking for ways they can adjust and adapt in case their work becomes obsolete. While there’s no way to be certain what kinds of roles might exist in the future, it’s a good idea to think about how you would reinvent yourself if your job suddenly became superfluous—that way you’ll have a better chance at surviving an inevitable economic revolution. Even if you aren’t worried about being replaced by robots right now, it’s still important to make sure you’re always keeping your skills fresh so you can be ready if an AI-fueled economy comes knocking on your door.

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