Tackling Fears Related to AI

Tackling Fears Related to AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has recently become a widely discussed topic among our society. And yet, whether people fully understand it or not, most of them have already formulated their own firm opinion about it. The fears that are arising are related to questions that sound as the following:

  • Is AI going to replace my job?
  • Since AI is more intelligent than me, what is my knowledge worth nowadays?
  • Why go to university if I can let AI do everything for me?
  • What if AI became conscious beings, capable of independent thought without human input?

A survey of European citizens found that many people are concerned about the impact of Artificial Intelligence on society [1]. The survey was conducted across 12 countries and found that the majority of respondents were worried about the use of AI in areas such as job automation, decision-making, and data privacy. The survey also revealed a lack of trust in both companies and governments to regulate AI use.

Another study found that trust in Artificial Intelligence is declining globally [2]. The study, which surveyed over 33,000 people across 28 countries, found that only 46% of respondents trust AI, down from 53% in 2021. The study also found that trust in AI is lower among younger generations and those with lower incomes. The reasons for this declining trust include concerns over job loss, bias and discrimination, and lack of transparency and accountability in AI decision-making.

My intention with this article is to explicitly voice the uprising fears regarding Artificial Intelligence. By tackling each worry with a compact explanation, my goal is to help my readers to express their own educated opinion on this prominent topic, and, in the best case, feel relieved of the worries that are circulating in today’s society.

Is AI going to replace my job?

One of the main fears that society has regarding AI is job displacement. It is important to remember that while AI can be highly efficient and accurate in certain tasks, it still cannot fully replicate the human perspective. Moreover, AI can also create new opportunities and lead to the development of entirely new fields. As AI takes over routinary repetitive tasks, workers will have the opportunity to focus on more complex and meaningful tasks that require human skills. As jobs are evolving, this can ultimately lead to more fulfilling and rewarding careers.

To also include expert opinions on this question, here are two statements of notable field experts:

  • Dr. Vivienne Ming, a theoretical neuroscientist, stated in an interview with Forbes that AI will likely automate some tasks within many jobs, but not necessarily replace the jobs entirely [3]. She emphasized that workers who are adaptable and are willing to continuously learn and develop new skills will have an advantage in the job market, as these skills cannot be easily replicated by AI.
  • Similarly, Andrew Ng, computer scientist and co-founder of Google Brain, has stated in a Forbes article that while some jobs will be automated, new jobs will also be created to support the development and implementation of AI technologies [4].

Finally, my personal opinion is that humans need to reflect for themselves, whether their job is being threatened by AI and, more importantly, if this is an actual threat or more of an opportunity. All jobs that can potentially be replaced by AI are highly repetitive anyways. Guiding reflection questions to tackle this fear of job replacement could be the following:

  1. What unique skills and strengths do I possess that cannot be easily replicated by AI?
  2. What brings me joy, what kind of tasks do I like to carry out?
  3. Can I integrate AI into the tasks that I like doing and are there opportunities to create value with my own input?

Despite the potential of AI automation of some tasks, it does not mean that your work is becoming obsolete. By reflecting on what your unique set of skills is, you can integrate AI into your daily work and advance it, thus evolving your work into something even greater.

Since AI is more intelligent than me, what is my knowledge worth nowadays?

It is understandable to feel worried about the fast evolution in AI, particularly the concern that tasks previously thought to require human intelligence may now be outperformed by AI systems. This raises questions about what role humans will play in a future society where AI dominates many aspects of life. To soothe this worry, we need to look at what AI in essence actually is: AI is a tool to help humans by automating tasks and assisting in decision-making processes based on data analysis and pattern recognition [5]. Hence, there are several important tasks that AI cannot do and require the human perspective, including:

Creativity: AI can generate and analyze data, but it cannot create something entirely new or innovative on its own. Human creativity is essential in fields such as art, design, and writing.

Emotional Intelligence: While AI can recognize emotions, it cannot experience or express them in the same way that humans can. Fields such as counseling, therapy, and social work require human empathy and emotional intelligence.

Critical Thinking: AI can analyze data and provide recommendations, but it cannot interpret information in the same way that humans can. Critical thinking is essential in fields such as law, policy-making, and academia.

Ethics: AI operates on algorithms and data, but it cannot make ethical judgments on its own. Humans are needed to set ethical standards and ensure that AI is used in a responsible and accountable manner.

Human Interaction: AI can simulate human conversation, but it cannot fully replace human interaction and communication. Fields such as teaching, coaching, and customer service require human interaction and relationship-building skills.

Therefore, your knowledge is still valuable and relevant in the age of AI, and can be enhanced by utilizing AI in conjunction with your own expertise. We can embrace the technology as a tool to enhance and support our capabilities, rather than view it as something that threatens our value and importance in society.

Why go to university if I can let AI do everything for me?

This question is a reflection of the fast pace of digital and technical evolution nowadays. Coupled with the on-going trend of providing everything as a service (“XAAS”), especially young individuals ask themselves the question, whether education is actually necessary to achieve a fulfilled career.

The emergence of cutting-edge technology has led to the belief among Generation Z that they can depend on AI to handle certain tasks, including those typically associated with higher education [6]. While it is true that AI has made some tasks more efficient and accurate, it is essential to consider the potential consequences of over-reliance on these technologies. In fact, going to university is not only about gaining knowledge and skills, but also about developing critical thinking, creativity, and social interaction, which are essential qualities that AI cannot fully replicate. Moreover, universities provide opportunities for personal and professional growth, socialization, and exposure to diverse perspectives, needless to even say that this knowledge and experiences go miles beyond of what AI is capable of.

In like manner, with the rise of importance of knowledge workers, i.e., workers whose main task is to generate knowledge, it is crucial to seek a higher education to be attractive on the job market. By obtaining a higher education, humans become equipped with the necessary skills such as effective communication, problem-solving, and adaptability that are essential in our nowadays rapidly changing economy.

Dr. Amy Lui Abel is an expert in the fields of talent management, leadership development, and diversity. In her article “Why a College Degree is Still Relevant in the Age of AI” published on Forbes [7], she argues that a college degree is still essential in today’s job market, especially as the rise of AI and automation is expected to increase the demand for highly skilled and educated workers.

In my opinion, I agree with the argument that a university degree is still relevant nowadays, if not increasing in relevance. Pursuing a higher education equips the student not only with factual knowledge and information, but teaches how to stay consistent, to become flexible, to become resilient, to multi-task and to prioritize sequences, let alone the social learnings and personal growth aspects. Being fully aware that I am repeating myself, it is crucial to emphasize that these experiences demonstrate the limitations of AI, as there are certain aspects of human interaction and experience that cannot be replicated by artificial intelligence.

What if AI became conscious beings, capable of independent thought without human input?

The concept of a technological singularity, where machines surpass human intelligence and become uncontrollable, has been discussed in science fiction for decades. In recent years, considerations of this phenomenon becoming reality is actually circulating in our society. The basic idea behind a singularity is that once machines become advanced enough to improve themselves, they could rapidly evolve beyond human intelligence and control. Despite these worries, it is of utmost importance to clarify that this scenario remains a speculative one, and many experts consider it unlikely or even impossible.

Stuart Russell, a computer scientist and AI researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, has also discussed the speculative nature of the technological singularity. In his book “Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control”, he argues that the singularity is a flawed concept that assumes machines will have goals and desires that are aligned with human values [8]. The author suggests that this assumption is dangerous and that we need to shift our focus to creating AI systems that are aligned with human values from the outset.

Concluding this article, I hope that I was able to address the prominent worries that come along with the rapid rise of AI. I believe that with proper education, and a healthy degree of curiosity, we can integrate AI into our daily life and evolve our work into something more meaningful, thus enhancing our work and greatly benefitting from this technological advancement. I believe it is important to reflect for oneself on important topics that fill us with worries, to then tackle them with an educated opinion. This way, we make sure that we distinguish necessary threats from redundant doubts. This is an essential process for personal growth in humans, again another trait that AI cannot replace.

Jennifer-Marieclaire Sturlese
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Sources (cliquez sur les titres pour en savoir plus)

Cover picture

Europeans’ fears over AI

individuals fear AI will replace jobs

A Force In AI Unlike Any We Have Seen Before

Jordan, M. I., & Mitchell, T. M. (2015). Machine learning: Trends, perspectives, and prospects. Science, 349(6245), 255-260. doi: 10.1126/science.aaa8415

Russell, S. (2019). Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control. Viking Press.

Will AI take your job (Forbes)(available only with the paying version)

The future of work

Why a college degree is still relevant (available only with the paying version)