The newspapers are rife with claims such as “half of all British jobs will be replaced by robots in 20 years” & “artificial intelligence will destroy your child’s chances at life” – are these claims true & if so where did they come from? Or could it just simply be scaremongering, a well-known tactic the British press have used for centuries dating back to the days of the printing press!
People either fear or desire the prospect of robots and artificial intelligence. The fear is that these robots, in particular robots with artificial intelligence could mean the end of our species, take our jobs and conquer us! On the other hand, people desire and have long anticipated the arrival of robots, they make our lives easier and without having to do all the manual tasks such as production, humans can focus on the development of our species. Both sides of the argument may lead to just one question though, is my job safe from a robot?
In the UK currently, 35% of jobs are at risk of being computerised or replaced by robots in the next 20 years (study conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford and Deloitte). Luckily, for most of our readers in the legal profession, your jobs are not at risk and are actually quite safe against automation. Which jobs are most at risk? Jobs that don’t require much social intelligence for the tasks to be carried out. These, for example, include manufacturing jobs; the industry has already seen massive automation and vast amounts of jobs having been replaced by robots. There are also jobs you may not think could be automated but the reality is they actually could! Telemarketers and bank clerks, for example, may be quite a social and interactive role but they don’t necessarily require a high degree of intelligence to complete the tasks involved. The jobs least at risk of automation are roles such as social carers & nurses, occupations where there is a lot of emotional involvement, in particular empathy, but don’t hold your breath on those, the hope for artificial intelligence is that robots will learn and develop those types of emotions!
Roles in the legal sector are particularly strong at avoiding automation as they require a high degree of social intelligence & negotiation but as we’ve seen in the profession already, some law firms use machines to scan thousands of documents to assist in pre-trial research. So, you’re all safe for now, only the dull, admin work has been taken away from us, but that can only be a good thing, right? Another benefit for legal sector workers is the booming financial technology sector and artificial intelligence development will create new jobs for the next generation of corporate lawyers. Law firms in London have already put their foot in the door in the ‘fintech’ sector with FinTech departments and firms booming with business.
Another route for artificial intelligence and robots is the integration of humans with robots, but is that really a viable option? It may seem like the easiest route for robots to begin learning and acting like a human but is going down that route just going to distance us from the reality of being a human? We’re all guilty of being immersed in our technology, especially our smartphones but full human/robot integration seems to really push the boundary! There was recently an article about a young girl from Thailand who died; her parents were so heartbroken that they decided to cryogenically freeze her brain, becoming the youngest person to undergo the procedure. The hope is that one day she can be brought back to life, reunited with her parents whether in human or robot form – if we ever reach that point.
The reality at this stage is though, no one really knows which jobs are safe or not? There isn’t enough known about artificial intelligence and it’s potential, and in the grand scale of things, artificial intelligence is still a mere embryo in its development. We know jobs such as manufacturing will more than likely be taken over by robots, which the industry has already witnessed (not all though, supercar manufacturers insist on their cars being hand manufactured). It’s still too early to define the potential of AI/robots, particularly when it comes to our jobs. For all we know, we could be treated like kings by Apple’s new range of iRobot 85s (still better than the Android version) or we could just simply be dominions of an evil robot overlord whose artificial intelligence outpaced our natural intelligence.
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