What is Artificial Intelligence:

Artificial Intelligence (AI), is defined as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines”. Simply, AI is the process of manufacturing machines and software that are capable of engaging in self-learning. Today, AI has become indispensable. The ongoing integration of AI and other highly advanced technologies performing vital functions in our everyday lives has seen AI touching every facet of our daily lives.

Why it matters:

Understanding AI and undertaking transparent, unbiased reporting on the positives and negatives associated with it are imperative as contemporary society continues the process of digitalisation. Given the obvious socio-political discontent that such a severe level of job displacement may create, journalists have a responsibility to critically engage with developments in AI through an evidence-based approach. Presenting skewed information on AI may further fuel angst amongst a growing number of individuals who fear that they will be disproportionally impacted by automation. Therefore, objective, fact-based coverage of AI is required to allow individuals to fully comprehend the potential opportunities and risks associated with AI.

AI in the workplace

AI is assuming an increasingly important role across various sectors. For many industries, the adoption of AI has become central to their future development. For the auto-industry, AI-derived products have not only driven innovation within the industry, but represent lucrative commercial revenue. A report by Tractica estimates that the market for AI hardware, software, and services will be worth $26.5 billion by 2025. Additionally, automation, facilitated through developments in AI, will lead to the reconfiguration of the labour market. According to a World Economic Forum report, by 2022, 133 million new jobs are expected to be created while 75 million jobs are set to be displaced by automation.

Debunking myths about AI

Fears and misconceptions about AI are heavily prevalent amongst a wide group of people. Worries range from preoccupations of job security vis-a-vis automation to science-fiction inspired fears of an impending, global robot insurgency. A study conducted by Pew Research in 2017, found that 72% of Americans ranged from being somewhat to very concerned about a future where “robots and computers are capable of performing many human jobs”

To placate these fears and dispel common myths about AI, it is vital that journalists are aware of the common misconceptions about AI and can counteract falsely held beliefs with facts.

Some common misconceptions are:

“Automation will put us all out of a job.”

Throughout history, seismic transformations in the organisation of labour, e.g the Industrial Revolution, have shown that humans possess an innate ability to innovatively, and successfully, adapt to radical changes in the labour market. While automation undeniably poses a threat to certain contemporary livelihoods, overall gains in productivity and efficiency in the economy will present people with the opportunity to channel their creativity and expertise on forging jobs and career paths of their choosing. According to a study undertaken by the Institute for the Future (IFTF), 85% of the jobs expected to exist in 2030 have yet to be created.

“Low-skilled workers will be replaced by AI and automation”

Adaption to the increased prevalence of AI in the workplace is, and, will continue to take place across various sectors and industries, regardless of the worker’s socio-economic background and profession. While it is true that automation, facilitated through AI, has replaced humans in numerous low-skilled professions pursuing cost-cutting measures, the most profound implementation of AI has occurred in high-skilled professions. The healthcare sector, for example, has been heavily exposed to AI and new technologies. Whether it be AI-assisted surgery, consulting medical applications or facilitating the management of records, the introduction of these new technologies is assisting medical professionals to carry out their jobs.

“Artificial intelligence will quickly overtake and outpace human intelligence”

A frequently peddled narrative amongst individuals sceptical about the development of AI involves the belief that robots and supercomputers will eventually reach a level of intelligence and performance that will surpass that of our own. This opinion is not shared by the bulk of commentators and experts in this domain. In speaking out against narrative, some analysts have argued that a lack of sentience on the part of robots will preclude them from truly mastering their environment, while others have taken a more nuanced approach in their rebuttal, highlighting the shortcomings of algorithms driving AI. In the case of the latter, human input will continue to be vital in order to maximise gains from the use of AI.

Sources:

BBC
www.bbc.com/future/tags/artificialintelligence

Financial Times
www.ft.com/content/6e71ca6e-62fa-11e7-8814-0ac7eb84e5f1

Forbes
www.forbes.com/insights-intelai/ai-issue-1

European Commission
www.ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/artificial-intelligence

OECD
www.oecd.org/going-digital/ai

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