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The Future of Artificial Intelligence, According to Pop Culture

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The unpredictable nature of superintelligent, self-improving machines lends itself quite nicely to the dramatic storylines of movies and books.

It’s a science fiction writer’s dream: if AI becomes smart enough to create more advanced versions of itself, pretty much every outcome is on the table. Machines could empower humanity to become enlightened and virtuous. On the less optimistic side? Machines could instead ruthlessly enslave all of humankind to tickle their own warped sense of satisfaction.

Pop Culture Perspectives

From the plot of movies like The Terminator to The Matrix, pop culture offers up innumerable examples of what could happen from the rise of the machines – and most of them, as you can imagine, steer towards the less optimistic side of the spectrum.

Today’s infographic from BBC Future provides an entertaining take on these scenarios, organized by potential likelihood.

Note: Infographic removed at request of BBC. To see it, click link above – or see our other AI infographic here.

Some experts see AI having a $15.7 trillion impact on our economy, but pop culture offers up a slightly different perspective of what the future may hold.

Future AI Scenarios

Here are just some of the scenarios offered up in mainstream movies, books, and television shows. Some are apocalyptic and dystopian, and some seem just plain bizarre:

Seductive Siris: In 2013’s Her, Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with an intelligent operating system named Samantha.

Self-Replicating AI: In 1995’s Screamers, scientists create a self-replicating weapon with one purpose: to destroy all life.

The Singularity: AI vies to take over the world in 1982’s classic Tron.

Rampaging Robots: In 1973’s Westworld, recently re-envisioned as a different TV series by HBO, murderous androids go on a killing spree in a futuristic Disney-style theme park.

Feeling Machines: In the 1999 movie Bicentennial Man, a household robot experiences emotions, creative thoughts, and eventually develops sentience.

Androids Among Us: Artificial beings infiltrate society undetected in TV series Battlestar Galactica.

Human Enslavement: In the 1999 movie The Matrix, all life on Earth is an elaborate facade. The robots are really the ones in command, but you wouldn’t know it until you take the “red pill”.

Mind Upload: Digitized humans gain immortality and then wreak havoc, such as in 2014’s Transcendence.

One Certainty

While some of these ideas seem far-fetched, it’s worth noting that not all future scenarios are as distant as they may seem.

With computing power increasing exponentially, the tail end of the hockey stick could happen sooner than we may think.

ai powerful human brain

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Automation

The Outlook for Automation and Manufacturing Jobs in Seven Charts

How will technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence end up impacting jobs and the workforce? Here are seven charts that tell the story.

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The Outlook for Automation and Manufacturing in Seven Charts

View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.

Over the last decade, the prospect of mass automation has seemingly shifted from a vague possibility to an inescapable reality.

While it’s still incredibly difficult to estimate the ultimate impact of automation and AI on the economy, the picture is starting to become a bit clearer as projections begin to converge.

Today’s infographic comes to us from Raconteur, and it highlights seven different charts that show us how automation is shaping the world – and in particular, the future outlook for manufacturing jobs.

The Age of Automation

The precise details are up to debate, but here are a few key areas that many experts agree on with respect to the coming age of automation:

Half of manufacturing hours worked today are spent on manual jobs.

  • In an analysis of North American and European manufacturing jobs, it was found that roughly 48% of hours primarily relied on the use of manual or physical labor.
  • By the year 2030, it’s estimated that only 35% of time will be spent on such routine work.

Automation’s impact will be felt by the mid-2020s.

  • According to a recent report from PwC, the impact on OECD jobs will start to be felt in the mid-2020s.
  • By 2025, for example, it’s projected that 10-15% of jobs in three sectors (manufacturing, transportation and storage, and wholesales and retail trade) will have high potential for automation.
  • By 2035, the range of jobs with high automation potential will be closer to 35-50% for those sectors.

Industrial robot prices are decreasing.

  • Industrial robot sales are sky high, mainly the result of falling industry costs.
  • This trend is expected to continue, with the cost of robots falling by 65% between 2015 and 2025.
  • With the cost of labor generally rising, this makes it more difficult to keep low-skilled jobs.

Technology simultaneously creates jobs, but how many?

  • One bright spot is that automation and AI will also create jobs, likely in functions that are difficult for us to conceive of today.
  • Historically, technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed.
  • AI alone is expected to have an economic impact of $15.7 trillion by 2030.

Unfortunately, although experts agree that jobs will be created by these technologies, they disagree considerably on how many. This important discrepancy is likely the biggest x-factor in determining the ultimate impact that these technologies will have in the coming years, especially on the workforce.

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Automation

Will a Robot Take Your Job?

Is your job going the way of the robots? The Future of Jobs Report estimates the changes robotics will bring to the workplace over the next few years.

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Forecasting a Robot Driven Workplace

Forecasting a Robot-Driven Workplace

Will a Robot Take Your Job?

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

Are you ready to hand your job over to R2D2?

A recent study by the Mckinsey Global Institute forecasts up to 800 million workers worldwide could lose their jobs to automation by 2030.

Industrial machine operators, administrators, and service workers will be the first to take a hit. Meanwhile, poorer countries with lower investment in tech are less likely to feel the pinch.

Jobs Out, Jobs In

Today’s chart uses data from the Future of Jobs Report 2018 by the World Economic Forum to take a peek at the changes technology will bring over the next four years.

It shows while humans are handing over a larger share of labor hours to their robot counterparts, the future isn’t all bleak. Although 75 million jobs could be displaced by the coming shift in labor, there will be 133 million new jobs created as well. While certain jobs are becoming redundant, human skills remain in demand in other areas.

Here is the full list of jobs on the chopping block in 2022, as well as the careers that will rise in importance:

Stable RolesNew RolesRedundant Roles
Managing Directors and Chief ExecutivesData Analysts and Scientists*Data Entry Clerks
General and Operations Managers*AI and Machine Learning SpecialistsAccounting, Bookkeeping and Payroll Clerks
Software and Applications Developers and Analysts*General and Operations Managers*Administrative and Executive Secretaries
Data Analysts and Scientists*Big Data SpecialistsAssembly and Factory Workers
Sales and Marketing Professionals*Digital Transformation SpecialistsClient Information and Customer Service Workers*
Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific ProductsSales and Marketing Professionals*Business Services and Administration Managers
Human Resources SpecialistsNew Technology SpecialistsAccountants and Auditors
Financial and Investment AdvisersOrganizational Development Specialists*Material-Recording and Stock-Keeping Clerks
Database and Network ProfessionalsSoftware and Applications Developers and Analysts*General and Operations Managers*
Supply Chain and Logistics SpecialistsInformation Technology ServicesPostal Service Clerks
Risk Management SpecialistsProcess Automation SpecialistsFinancial Analysts
Information Security Analysts*Innovation ProfessionalsCashiers and Ticket Clerks
Management and Organization AnalystsInformation Security Analysts*Mechanics and Machinery Repairers
Electrotechnology EngineersEcommerce and Social Media SpecialistsTelemarketers
Organizational Development Specialists*User Experience and Human-MachineElectronics and Telecommunications Installers and Repairers
Chemical Processing Plant OperatorsInteraction DesignersBank Tellers and Related Clerks
University and Higher Education TeachersTraining and Development SpecialistsCar, Van and Motorcycle Drivers
Compliance OfficersRobotics Specialists and EngineersSales and Purchasing Agents and Brokers
Energy and Petroleum EngineersPeople and Culture SpecialistsDoor-To-Door Sales Workers, News and Street Vendors, and Related Workers
Robotics Specialists and EngineersClient Information and Customer Service Workers*Statistical, Finance and Insurance Clerks
Petroleum and Natural Gas Refining Plant OperatorsService and Solutions DesignersLawyers
Digital Marketing and Strategy Specialists

Source: Future of Jobs Survey 2018, World Economic Forum. Roles marked with * appear across multiple columns. This reflects the fact that they might be seeing stable or declining demand across one industry, but be in demand in another.

New Jobs For A New World

While this coming wave of automation is bound impact the workplace, for now you might want to leave that torch and pitchfork at home – the robots aren’t out to steal your job just yet.

Oxford University researchers predict 47% of American jobs are likely to face automation over the next 20 years. However, the same study reveals 53% of jobs are unlikely to be affected at all. Robots are less likely to take over roles dependent on human interaction – like doctors and teachers. Workers in specialized roles, such as plumbing and care work, can breathe easy too.

Jobs in manufacturing, transport, and administration may decrease. But a potential rise in health, science, tech, and hospitality jobs is likely to offset this trend.

So the real question is, will robots replace your job, or make room for you to pursue a new career?

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