In an AI-powered world, what are potential jobs of the future?


3d rendering robotic hand with light bulb

With virtual assistants answering our emails and robots replacing humans on manufacturing assembly lines, mass unemployment due to widespread automation seems imminent. But it is easy to forget amid our growing unease that these systems are not “all-knowing” and fully competent.

As many of us have observed in our interactions with artificial intelligence, these systems perform repetitive, narrowly defined tasks very well but are quickly stymied when asked to go off script — often to great comical effect. As technological advances eliminate historic roles, previously unimaginable jobs will arise in the new economic reality. We combine these two ideas to map out potential new jobs that may arise in the highly automated economy of 2030.

Training, supervising and assisting robots

As robots take on increasingly complex functions, more humans will be needed to teach robots how to correctly accomplish these jobs. Human Intelligence Task (HIT) marketplaces like MTurk and Crowdflower already use humans to train AI to recognize objects in images or videos. New AI companies, like Lola, a personal travel service, are expanding HIT with specialized workers to train AI for complex tasks.

See also: How autonomous vehicles could lead to more jobs in Detroit

Microsoft’s Tay bot, which quickly devolved into tweeting offensive and obscene comments after interacting with users on the internet, caused significant embarrassment to its creators. Given how quickly Tay went off the rails, it is easy to imagine how dangerous a bot trusted with maintaining our physical safety can become if it is fed the wrong sets of information or learns the wrong things from a poorly designed training set. Because the real world is ever-changing, AI must continuously train and improve, even after it achieves workable domain expertise, which ensures that expert human supervision is critical

Integrating jobs for people into the design of semi-autonomous systems has enabled some companies to achieve greater performance despite current technological limitations.

BestMile, a driverless vehicle deployed to transport luggage at airports, has successfully integrated human supervision into its design. Instead of engineering for every edge case in the complex and dangerous environment of an airport tarmac, the BestMile vehicle stops when it senses an obstacle in its path and waits for its human controller to decide what to do, enabling the company to enter the market much more quickly than competitors, which must refine their sensing algorithms to allow their robots to independently operate without incident.

Frontier explorers: Outward and upward

When Mars One, a Dutch startup whose goal is to send people to Mars, called for four volunteers to man their first Mars mission, more than 200,000 people applied.

Regardless of whether automation leads to increased poverty, automation’s threat of displacing people from their current jobs and in essence some part of their sense of self-worth could drive many to turn to an exploration of our final frontiers. An old saying jokes that there are more astronauts from Ohio than any other state because there is something about the state that makes people …read more

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