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Will AI Steal Our Jobs? Yes, and it's Ok!

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The relationship between industrial and technological revolutions and labor market fears is not new. Throughout the history of technological development, this dilemma has arisen time and time again, starting from the era of steam engines. The fear of job loss is understandable, but it is important to examine the context from the early 19th century to the present day to get a more nuanced picture of the situation.

 

The steam engine revolution

 

The emergence of steam engines at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century revolutionized manufacturing and transportation. Manual laborers mass lost their jobs due to the spread of machines. This change led to social tensions and uprisings, such as the Luddite movement in England.

 

The impact of steam engines on the labor market was not uniform. In certain industries, such as textiles and mining, steam engines significantly reduced the need for labor. In other industries, such as railway transportation and machinery manufacturing, they created new jobs.

 

The impact of steam engines on markets was also significant. Mass production allowed for price reduction and wider availability of products. This led to increased consumption and economic development.

 

Motorization

 

After the steam engine revolution, the emergence of automobiles in the early 20th century brought about another major transformation in the labor market. Many people lost their jobs, such as coachmen, drivers of horse-drawn mail coaches, blacksmiths who dealt with horseshoeing, farriers, horse keepers, innkeepers whose inn served as resting places for coachmen, employees of mail coach stations, harness maintainers.

 

However, the emergence of automobiles also created numerous new jobs. New industries emerged, such as car manufacturing, road construction, operation of gas stations, tire industry, tire manufacturing, workshops for service and repair. Many new professions were born, such as truck drivers, taxi drivers, bus drivers, traffic police officers, gas station attendants, auto mechanics, body repairmen, painters, motorcycle mechanics, electricians, machine operators, assembly line workers in car factories, engineers who dealt with the design and development of cars, designers, test pilots, marketers, salespeople, cashiers at car dealerships, mechanics and tire fitters at gas stations, racers, mechanics and engineers in motorsport teams.

 

The automobile revolution also had a significant impact on markets. Mass production allowed for price reduction and wider availability of cars. This led to increased consumption and economic development. It also facilitated urban expansion, as people no longer needed horses and carts to commute to work or shop, and laid the foundations for modern tourism.

New Jobs

Microchips

 

A similar situation arose with the advent of microchips, as it also caused job losses. Many jobs that were previously done manually by humans, such as assembly on the production line, data entry tasks, and many modern and advanced positions, became automated.

 

However, the emergence of microchips also created numerous new industries, such as computer manufacturing, software development, telecommunications, or semiconductor manufacturing. These industries also generated a huge demand for labor.

 

AI Revolution

 

The rise of AI (artificial intelligence) brings about further changes in the labor market. The automation of certain tasks is already noticeable, and this trend is expected to continue in the future, and even grow exponentially. Naturally, this raises concerns among some workers who fear losing their jobs due to AI.

 

As we have seen, history repeats itself, and technological development inevitably leads to changes in the world we know. However, previous examples show that while these changes may have been uncomfortable for a while, they ultimately created a more efficient, secure, and comfortable world.

 

At the same time, it is important to note that the technological progress, including future new industries and business models based on AI, will require new skills and knowledge from workers. Therefore, perhaps the most important thing is for workers to prepare for these changes. They need to acquire new skills and knowledge that will allow them to adapt to the evolving labor market.

 

In times like these, the role of governments, educational institutions, and NGOs is also crucial, as they need to provide support to workers in acquiring the necessary skills, as well as in another very important area, regulation.

 

 

Regulation, Ethics

 

These are also very important topics in relation to AI, as currently it is mainly the companies developing these technologies that are trying to set some norms and regulations. It is also valid to comment, as many do, that deepfakes may topple governments and harm people. Unfortunately, this danger exists, but it is not a problem stemming from AI, but rather from human fallibility. Those who really wanted to do harm have been able to do these ugly things so far.

 

The falsification of photos has been going on since the 1800s. The introduction of Photoshop in the 1990s lowered the entry barrier, but Photoshop itself did not become “evil” because of this. Just as the special effects in films can be traced back to 1895 (Alfred Clark). Nevertheless, After Effects or DaVinci did not become the devil either.

 

Users… well, here, we really need to think. Because programs do not provide us with tools to do bad things, but, for example, to get a quality film experience from a person jumping around in front of a green screen, as currently we don’t have the opportunity to shoot a film on Mars, “although there would be a demand for it” 😊. Just as syringes were developed for doctors, but we know that they will not be used for this purpose in a Brooklyn underpass.

 

But let’s go back to our previous examples of the industrial revolution or even cars. During the industrial revolution, regulation primarily meant that it required education and maintenance for safe use of machines. In the case of cars, this regulation became the introduction of technical inspections and the Highway Code.

 

What might be surprising is that the current Highway Code rules are far from being contemporaneous with cars! At first… they were driving just for… leisure. In fact, luxury accessories for drinking alcohol while driving could also be obtained. The increasing traffic and the number of accidents made it necessary to regulate road traffic, which gradually evolved as transportation became more complex.

 

1897: Karl Benz invents the car.

1926: The International Automobile Federation (FIA) is established.

1927: The FIA develops the first unified Highway Code, known as the Geneva Convention.

1949: The UN General Assembly adopts the Geneva Convention.

1968: The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic is signed in Vienna.

 

So it took 71 years for universally accepted traffic rules to be introduced in most of the world! – an interesting fact, at that time the use of seat belts was recommended in those cars that had them –

 

With this, I just wanted to show that regulation will not happen overnight, and probably not even from one year to the next. This requires continuous monitoring by regulators.

As educators, we also have a responsibility to our students and society to teach them ethical use, those who have entrusted their development, even their future job situation, their family’s livelihood to us!