Where Will Humans Shine in the Automated Future?

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    Robotics: Humans Need Not Apply

    The news of Google’s purchase of artificial intelligence (AI) start-up DeepMind adds another wrinkle to the ongoing question of the end results of advances in automation, robotics and AI. As these technologies replace more and more humans in the workplace, how many new jobs in the creation and use of said artificial intelligence, robotics and automation might be created, and where might that happen?

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution points out that this move is in line with Google’s work on driverless cars and other robotics technology, as well as a next-generation, super-smart search engine that could “know you better than you know yourself.” That core search capability work can’t be discounted as a source of employment with Google itself, along with other futuristic projects conceived and led by Google Director of Engineering Ray Kurzweil. Perhaps the best of the best in tech will speed up Kurzweil’s target dates for 3D product printing in the home (2020), elimination of those pesky fat cells (2020), or full-immersion virtual realities (2023).

    ExtremeTech’s Sebastian Anthony wonders if the technology gained with the DeepMind acquisition, which is a bit opaque at the moment, will mesh with the robotics technology acquired with Boston Dynamics, though he also fears that could be the end of us all (us being the humans). A reported ethics board created specifically as part of this acquisition will presumably endeavor to prevent misuse of whatever powerful capabilities exist.

    Just days ago, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos that technology innovations should be considered a significant problem and that the solution would lie in keeping the focus on the best use of human capabilities. “The race is between computers and people and the people need to win. I am clearly on that side. In this fight, it is very important that we find the things that humans are really good at,” Schmidt is quoted as saying by the Financial Times. Schmidt sees an ongoing need for public and private support for education if employment rates are to be sustained at desirable levels as the pace of automation increases.

    Among all of these somewhat frightening developments, health care – once again – may be the brightest light in balancing efficient use of robotics technology and a skilled human workforce. WANTED Analytics found that out of 45,000 jobs for “robotics skilled professionals” in 2013, health care accounted for 35 percent – more than in tech and engineering. Implementation of the technology will include significant training needs, found WANTED:

    “Registered Nurses were the most common health care occupation that required these skills. In addition to being able to assist in robotic surgeries, nurses that are experienced with robotics are being recruited to develop training programs for other nursing staff and ensure the health care provider is up-to-date on all necessary protocols.”

    Filling these skilled positions, says the firm, will be challenging. Only humans need apply.

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