Relax. The robots aren’t coming for your job – this year’s AI frenzy is all hype

Artificial intelligence will ‘hack into the matrix’ warns expert

Generative AI has been the investment story of the year as US tech stocks like Nvidia rocket on expectations that AI will change the world. They will definitely change the workplace, with investment bank Goldman Sachs warning that robots will run rampant and destroy 300million jobs. Soon there’ll be no careers left for people, apparently.

As a journalist, I should be worried. The bots are coming for me. Apparently, AI could have written this article in one second. It would probably be more accurate than most of my stuff, too.

Yet we should refuse to be cowed by the AI threat. Like Daleks climbing stairs, there’s an astonishing amount of basic stuff robots can’t do.

Here are five ways those big bad bots will never be able to compete with flesh-and-blood workers.

They lack our charm. While AI and robots are great at doing automated tasks efficiently, they’re still a bit weak at human interaction.

Anybody who has ever called a company only to be greeted by an automated voice system (which means almost all of us) knows how infuriating they are to deal with. They listen, but they don’t understand and care even less.

That hasn’t stopped their relentless spread, but they still require a small army of real life human workers to pick up the pieces as customers lose their rag.

Also, bots don’t do empathy. Which means they can’t replace doctors, therapists, teachers, counsellors and a host of other jobs than need a human face rather than a bunch of wires.

Every worker will have had a line manager with the empathy of a robot, but they’re still the exception rather than the rule.

You’re more creative. I accept that robots are model workers. They’ll never show up with a hangover, argue with the boss, kick the photocopier or make suggestive remarks about colleagues’ bodily parts. Yet there’s loads of things we’d like them to do that they can’t.

People have plenty of faults but we also have a huge capacity for creativity and innovation. We can dream up new solutions, products, technologies, seemingly out of the blue.

While robots are great at analysing data and patterns, they are limited by their programming and data inputs. They simply don’t have our spark.

And they never take their turn making the tea.

Robots don’t do morals. Human beings may be morally flawed, but at least we understand what morals are.

A host of jobs involve making complex ethical judgements, obvious examples include healthcare, law enforcement, social work, debt collection and politics. They might make good butchers, though.

Humans can weigh the complexities of moral dilemmas, use their discretion and balance the rights of individuals against broader social responsibilities. Robots are much simpler. With them it’s either “Yes”, “No” or “Exterminate”. There’s no subtlety.

They’re too expensive. There’s a reason why there isn’t a robot beavering away in every coffee shop, GP surgery and office reception. They cost a fortune to make. All those moving parts and who is going to repair them if something goes wrong? A human with a screwdriver, that’s who.

Robots will never be all over the place because there just aren’t enough processors and circuits to make it happen (and think of the electricity bill).

By contrast, you come ready made. No processors required. True, you might need a bit of training, but you’ll get there given time.

Plus there are people everywhere. More than a million of us are looking for work at any time. Who needs bots? People are more fun to have around, too.

Robots can’t cope with humans. Robots have one ultimate flaw. They can’t deal with the unpredictability of human beings.

Just look at driverless cars. They’d be perfectly happy, driving up and down empty roads, turning corners, reversing, stuff like that.

The problem is that there are people on those roads, and people do the strangest things.

In March, a driverless car from the tech startup Cruise was trying to make a left turn when it smashed into Infiniti Q50 performing “donuts.”

For the uninitiated, this involves slamming the steering wheel hard to one side and going round and round in circles to make circular rubber skid-marks.

That wasn’t in the driverless car’s algorithms.

Tesla’s self-driving cars will fail not because the tech is no good, but because people aren’t.

Which is why we will ultimately destroy them, rather than the other way around. 

Robots have their uses. We may use them to slash NHS waiting lists, maintain sewers and manage investment portfolios. But we’ll still be the ones in charge. No wonder they think we’re scum. The problem is, we’re unpredictable scum. And they can’t handle it.

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