Will Artificial Intelligence bring a wave of unemployment?

Just over a year since the first unmanned convenience store appeared in China in 2016, they can now be found in most cities, and the speed of their popularity has surprised people. As far as the shopping experience is concerned, unmanned convenience stores do offer some convenience to customers. But unmanned convenience stores also bring with them hidden concerns, the most immediate impact being the disappearance of the salesperson position.

More jobs than just salespeople will be impacted by AI in the future. Driver positions, for example, are already being tested on specific routes in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, and driverlessness is set to become widespread in the future. For example, translation, robot translation has started to be used by people. Even doctors, journalists, poets, etc., which require emotional communication, can be replaced by AI in the future.

Poetry is recognized as a product of human emotion, which in the eyes of many, is beyond the reach of machines. On December 15, 2017, China Central Television's "Jiu Ge" program featured a robot named "Jiu Ge" and three young people who had won a national poetry competition, and then 48 people voted to determine which poem was written by the robot. As a result, the robot won this competition.

This result has surprised many people. If robots beat humans in games such as Go and chess because of their superior computing power, composing poetry shows that robots already have the ability to "think". That is, AI can be completely powerful enough to replace humans for work.

This is the fourth industrial revolution that mankind is facing, a revolution represented by unmanned technology and artificial intelligence, a revolution that subverts the way of production and life of human society arising from the application of technologies such as cloud computing and big data.

This revolution is the result and manifestation of mankind's technological progress, but it will also bring misfortune to mankind, as many people's jobs will be replaced by robots. In the current context of social distribution of wealth according to work, the destabilizing impact of the wave of unemployment on society can be imagined.

Human societies have already experienced waves of unemployment due to technological advances. During the Third Industrial Revolution, a large number of workers in capitalist societies lost their jobs due to the use of mechanization and the emergence of automated equipment in manufacturing, which are recorded in some Western sources, and protests and riots were caused by waves of unemployment in Western countries such as Europe and the United States. Later it was the rise of the service sector and the gradual improvement of the social assistance system that diffused the difficulties of the industrial unemployment wave.

The rise of the fourth industrial revolution's no-man's-land economy will have a far greater impact on employment than the third industrial revolution. Whether blue-collar or white-collar, technical or managerial positions, all can be replaced by robots and face the possibility of losing their jobs. Don't think it's too long before that day arrives; look at the time it's taken for the degree of cashless society brought about by mobile payments in China, and look at the speed at which unmanned convenience stores are becoming commonplace; it can't be too late.

In the process of the fourth industrial revolution, China is at the forefront of the world. China has become a global digital technology powerhouse, and digital technologies are constantly changing the existing economic landscape and reshaping the industry value chain. The Chinese government's push for a big data strategy, China's huge number of internet users, and the support of Chinese capital will allow China to stay ahead of the fourth industrial revolution. But it also raises the risk of China facing a wave of unemployment head-on.

A Citibank report published in February 2016 in partnership with Oxford University predicts that 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be replaced by robots. In the UK, the percentage is 35%. In China, the percentage is as high as 77%.

Let's ignore the accuracy of this prediction for now, but the trend of this prediction is one I agree with.

As a country with a large population, employment has always been one of the important tasks of the government in China. China's reform and opening up has created a large surplus of rural labor, and in order to solve the employment of these people, China has actively developed labor-intensive enterprises, and the labor dividend is therefore this is considered to be one of the factors of China's economic development. And with worker positions in labor-intensive companies being the most likely to be replaced by robots, the risk of unemployment from this alone cannot go unnoticed.

Once AI robots are "employed" on a large scale, then the question of human employment will follow; where are the new massive human jobs? Should the social distribution of wealth based on pay for work be broken? And so on, will be issues to be faced head on.

Of course, perhaps we don't need to panic in the face of the surging AI frenzy because, historically speaking, advances in technology, while certainly eliminating some jobs, will also create others.

But until we know what new jobs or ways to defuse the wave of unemployment that the fourth industrial revolution will bring, the government, and everyone, should take this seriously, and only by being proactive can we minimize the negative effects. For us as individuals, we can't change the course and impact of AI technology, but we can change ourselves, or at least change our knowledge structure a bit to increase our gold content when we are re-employed. Chance always favors those who are prepared, doesn't it?

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