The growing abilities of artificial intelligence have left many observers wondering how AI will impact people’s jobs and livelihoods. One expert in the field predicts it won’t have much effect, at least in the short term.
The topic was a point of discussion at the annual TED conference held recently in Vancouver.
In a world where students’ term papers can now be written by artificial intelligence, paintings can be drawn by merely uttering words and an AI-generated version of your favorite celebrity can appear on screen, the impact of this new technology is starting to be felt in societies and sparking both wonderment and concern.
While artificial intelligence has yet to become pervasive in everyday life, the rumblings of what could be a looming economic earthquake are growing stronger.
Gary Marcus is a professor emeritus of psychology and neural science at New York University who helped ride sharing company Uber adopt the rapidly developing technology.
An author and host of the podcast “Humans versus Machines,” Marcus says AI’s economic impact is limited for now, although some jobs have already been threatened by the technology, such as commercial animators for electronic gaming.
Speaking with VOA after a recent conference for TED, the non-profit devoting to spreading ideas, Marcus said jobs that require manual labor will be safe, for now.
“We’re not going to see blue collar jobs replaced I think as quickly as some people had talked about.,” Marcus predicted. “So we still don’t have driverless cars, even though people have talked about that for years. Anybody that does something with their hands is probably safe right now. Because we don’t really know how to make robots that sophisticated when it comes to dealing with the real world.”
Another TED speaker, Sal Khan, is the founder of Khanmigo, an artificial intelligence powered software designed to help educate children. He is optimistic about AI’s potential economic impact as a driver of wealth creation.
“Will it cause mass dislocations in the job market? I actually don’t know the answer to that,” Khan said, adding that “It will create more wealth, more productivity.”
The legal profession could be boosted by AI if the technology prompts litigation. Copyright attorneys could especially benefit.
Tom Graham and his company, Metaphysic.ai, artificially recreate famous actors and athletes so they do not need to physically be in front of a camera or microphone in order to appear in films, TV shows or commercials.
His company is behind the popular fake videos of actor Tom Cruise that have gone viral on social media.
He says the legal system will play a role in protecting people from being recreated without their permission.
Graham, who has a law degree from Harvard University, has applied to the U.S. Copyright Office to register the real-life version of himself.
“We did that because you’re looking for legal institutions that exist today, that could give you some kind of protection or remedy,” Graham explained, “It’s just, if there’s no way to enforce it, then it’s not really a thing.”
Gary Marcus is urging the formation of an international organization to oversee and monitor artificial intelligence.
He emphasized the need to “get a lot of smart people together, from the companies, from the government, but also scientists, philosophers, ethicists…”
“I think it’s really important that we as a globe, think all these things through,” Marcus concluded, “And don’t just leave it to like 190 governments doing whatever random thing they do without really understanding the science.”
The popular AI website ChatGPT has gained widespread attention in recent months but is not yet a moneymaker. Its parent company, OpenAI, lost more than $540 million in 2022.