The future of work is up for debate between tech giants and CEOs alike. And when it comes to artificial intelligence, the fog has yet to lift. Is it due to the uncertainty around AI and its ever-growing presence in the tech industry? Or, is it due to the looming changes that the use of AI could create? Whatever the case, no one can seem to agree.
Even tech giants Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk cannot seem to agree, creating two of the five schools of thought that exist on AI. There are many questions revolving around the AI world adding to the opposition—and confusion. Will it take our jobs? Will it create new jobs? Will we work together? Will AI get smarter than humans?
Only time will tell. For now, according to Harvard Business Review there are five schools of thought on AI. We need to look at the opinions centered around AI to understand where you fit in—and how you’ll prepare and react to it in your workplace.
This school of thought is all about seeing the positive effects of AI on the economy. Utopians believe that AI will bring forth a new era of extreme wealth and growth without any economic decline. HBR explains it this way, “AI and computing power will advance in the next two decades to achieve ‘the singularity’ — when machines will be able to emulate the workings of the human brain in its entirety.”
Brains will be downloaded and replicated. These replicated brains will do the cognitive work while robots will do the physical work. Utopians believe that this switch in cognitive and physical skills will create a growth in economic output, doubling every three months. The main belief in this school of thought is this: with AI and robots doing all the work, humans will be able to apply their skills and talents to meaningful actions, a way to officially “do what you want” with what you have.
On the other hand, dystopians focus on what could be the negative effects of AI and robotics on the market and the world. HBR calls it a “Darwinian struggle” that machines will dominate. These AI systems that are put in charge will dominate the heart of middle and high skill jobs. The positions that are left in the low-skill range will be given to robots.
The result of these changes will be high unemployment rates, critically low wages and economic illness. Human productivity will go down, incomes will decrease, demand for goods and services will decrease. Our economy could go into a tailspin. Elon Musk thinks that this could be a possibility and believes that Universal Basic Income will be necessary.
Although some companies and tech-enthusiasts believe that we are still years away from perfecting the recipe of AI, tech-optimists are focused on the optimism of the technology advancements AI may bring to the table. While companies are still learning how this type of intelligent technology can make a difference in their business, this thought believes that eventually, businesses will grasp the technology and take advantage of it.
When they grasp the concept, a “leap in productivity” will produce gold in the industry, creating growth in the economy as well as a higher standard of living complete with “consumer surplus and the value of free apps and information”. This thought also states that will all these changes, jobs may be lost, and negative income will need to be combated. Investments in education and training as well as technology will be required to make this work.
The Realist Thought
Although it is always best to remain optimistic, and those in this thought are, it is also crucial to be a realist. This school of thought focuses on the realism behind AI and the changes it may make in the business world.
They believe that much like previous tech waves the wave of AI and intelligent machines can create the productivity it promises. Companies that can implement the requirements needed for this technology will have a rapid productivity increase. Although new jobs could be created, the tech may worsen what has happened in the past: middle-skill job levels to decrease and low and high levels to increase.
The realists believe that the questions cannot be answered yet, due to lack of complete research. This research will be needed to make a smart decision towards AI and machine intelligence.
Lack of Productivity Thought
It seems that what most of the thoughts can agree on is the increase of productivity. However, this thought believes that there will be a lack of productivity compared to what is expected.
HBR states, “Despite the power of intelligent technologies, any gains in national productivity levels will be low. Combine that with headwinds from aging populations, income inequality, and the costs of dealing with climate change, and the United States will have near-zero GDP growth.” Those who are in this school of thought believe there isn’t anything to fuss over, just to wait and brace for stagnant growth.
Where Do You Stand?
Although these five schools of thought differ, one thing is for certain: business owners must prepare now for the future, regardless of the future of artificial intelligence. I personally go back and forth on what school of thought I’m in. Each one makes sense to me and seems like it could be a possibility. At the end of the day though, I know that regardless of AI predictions, I need to be prepared for the future.
This article was first published on Forbes.