Get updates by email or on Twitter at @hughdurkin

What Jobs Will Artificial Intelligence Replace?

Artificial intelligence is a critical innovation, yet we still lack a consensus on how best to employ it when it’s available to us. AI has clearly "arrived" but how can we use it — rather than fear it — to harness its full potential?

Artificial intelligence will transform how we live, work, shop, and learn. As information technology becomes pervasive, it will have bigger impacts on society in years to come. And - for humans at least - society has always started at home.

My home is filled with a variety of devices, from cooking gadgets to smart speakers; all of them connected to the internet and capable of learning from our daily routines. While some items require human intervention to change settings or operate correctly ("HEY, GOOGLE!"), all these systems require us to learn how to use them. And, they learn from us. To make these systems more intelligent, or at least more reliable, requires us to educate, as well as to maintain them after their useful lifespan.

AI is software, not hardware, and it's increasingly embedded everywhere.

Since the arrival of self-driving vehicles in 2014, various stereotypes of "robotics" and "artificial intelligence" have emerged. AI, according to the “AI myth”, is a fantasy powered by scientific and technological advances. At its core, the myth is that AI and robots are taking over our world, and will replace all humankind at some point. Not just untrue - it's an entirely impossible scenario.

After decades of negative AI hype, we now need widespread societal support for AI and its potential positive impact. And we need the most important active force shaping a postitive future for AI: financial incentives. Funds are increasingly being directed towards AI for discrete, obvious capabilities, not its theoretical capabilities. AI has given us more social feed optimizations than healthcare optimizations.

Yet Facebook, Twitter, and Google still need to hire large teams of human reviewers to separate the signal from the noise. Humans still understand other humans best.

Many jobs will likely be replaced by artificial intelligence. While you can always train a machine to do your job and work with us. "Work with" being the operative term - the benefits of AI are in collaboration with humans, not in competition with us. AI can never be creative enough to "invent" entirely new jobs and industries. That's what humans do, and what we'll always do.

While much of the AI conversation has been political, debates about AI are happening in local communities, too. Experts continue to be divided on the impact of machine learning and AI technology on jobs such as nurses, maintenance workers, and minimum wage positions.

As we have transformed our business and marketing models to be more automated, AI is often used to perform a task that was previously labor-intensive. It is also common for AI technologies to be criticized by business leaders for “not being human enough”.

That's the opportunity. And why we should embrace AI, not be scared of it. AI doesn't need to be "human enough" - it just needs to help humans enough.

When we talk about AI and jobs, we should talk more about what AI might enhance in the workplace, rather than replace in the workplace.