William Webster

written by

William Webster

Researcher, Avoncourt Partners GmbH

Culture Blog - Nov 11, 2017

Resist the Urge to Run from Artificial Intelligence

In May 2017, Google’s Artificial Intelligence “AlphaGo” was at it again. Google DeepMind’s Go-playing AI defeated Ke Jie, the world’s number one Go player, in Wuzhen, China.

The AI won by just half a point – the smallest possible margin of victory – in a match that lasted four hours and fifteen minutes. In a press conference after the AI’s latest victory, Ke said that AlphaGo had clearly learned from its recent victories against Go champions.

This may be nice in the realm of game-playing, but when AI appears to threaten the jobs of brokers and analysts on Wall Street, the party ends. Understandably many are concerned about the rapid developments in AI, fearing their jobs may be relegated to fast-learning robots who’ll never make a mistake.

In a study done by the financial services consultancy Opimas, it is estimated that by 2025, financial institutions will reduce their human workforce by 10%—resulting in roughly 230,000 fewer heads—as computers take their place. Of those displaced jobs, 40% are expected to come from the money management space. It’s not just Wall Street, either: PwC warned in March 2017 that automation could replace 38% of all American jobs by 2030.

Should we fear AI? Let’s compare this question to another threatening situation. Have you ever been chased by a dog?

Resist the urge to run. Running may seem like the most reasonable reaction, but it’s actually the most dangerous. If you start to run, the dog’s predatory instincts will kick in and it will most likely chase you.

Stand your ground. Running towards you while barking and growling is simply the dog’s way of trying to scare you away. Refuse to react out of fear and instead stretch your arms and make yourself big, standing still. If you do this long enough, the dog will eventually calm down and lose interest in you.

Relating these reactions to how we should deal with AI is quite easy. PwC’s March 2017 warning indicates 38% of present jobs in the US by 2030. If we reverse the same time length, we see that there are many jobs in 2017 that didn’t exist in 2004, like cloud specialists and smartphone application programmers.

We are looking ahead to many new job venues with new developments in technology. We will need machine learning specialists, AI product managers, and engineers for deep learning solutions. Before we begin to fear AI, let’s learn from the opportunities it brings and capitalize on its novelties. Resist the urge to run, and stand your ground.