How will A.I. impact the workforce? Is A.I. unavoidable? | Interview with Robbie Allen (Part 2)

How is Artificial Intelligence changing right now? How will A.I. impact the workforce? How should business handle the unavoidable implementation of artificial intelligence? Will machines ever be able to perform any intellectual tasks a human can?

These are just some of the questions we asked expert Robbie Allen, CEO of Infinia ML.

See part 1 of the interview:

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Alexander Ferguson 0:00
Welcome to UpTech Report series on artificial intelligence. I’m Alexander Ferguson. This is the second part of my conversation with Robbie Allen, CEO of Infinia ml in Durham, North Carolina. Robbie owns six patents and has authored eight different books, and is a fascinating individual to interview about AI. In this video, I asked him about what is changing in artificial intelligence right now, how it will impact the workforce. And if machines will ever be able to complete the same intellectual tasks humans can,

Robbie Allen 0:34
I think voice is very powerful. You know, we’re seeing that with Alexa. You know, I don’t know if even Amazon’s found the killer app necessarily. I mean, it’s not like Alexa is driving lots of commerce at this point. And, you know, I know I use it at home to check on the weather and set a timer and things like that. But you know, I would say my usage is pretty limited to a small subset of use cases. I think there’s some applications in the enterprise to apply, you know, voice based interactions, you know, I need help with, you know, you, instead of calling up a help desk, you can call up somebody, and maybe, you know, that can be an automated system, although we all have experience with sort of automated voice systems going wrong. So I do think there’s a lot of potential for voice. And again, thanks to machine learning, you know, we’re going to be seeing that over time. But I don’t think it’s going to be, you know, a voice economy or everything’s driven strictly out of voice. You know, I think we’re still a ways off from the technology being robust enough to be able to handle that level, just in the same way that we’re still always off me from autonomous cars being robust enough to handle, you know, driving any street on their own says a little bit the same with voice, I mean, we can do for certain use cases, you can kind of have a voice system, stay in his lane and do okay. But if you’re trying to tackle very broad, you know, applications, it’s very easy, you can get out of whack,

Alexander Ferguson 1:54
what’s the impact of artificial intelligence on the workforce,

Robbie Allen 1:58
the goal is not to just take people out of their jobs and fire them, right. In fact, most of the time, you know, there’s, it’s not the case that machine learning typically automates 100% of a task anyway, you know, maybe you can make a job more efficient. So instead of doing five of something in a day, now you can do 20 of something. But then again, there’s, there’s all sorts of types of tasks that open up with the introduction of machine learning into an organization, and as well as data processing and data labeling, and there’s all sorts of things that are going to be there. So, you know, there’s gonna be plenty of work for the foreseeable future. I mean, you know, data scientist is arguably one of the hottest jobs in the United States, right, everybody wants to be a data scientists, this seems. And so, you know, that will continue to have strong demand for the foreseeable future, you know, I won’t say, you know, there will be an impact on jobs, for sure. It’s hard to say whether it’d be good or bad. In fact, I can see a world where there’s gonna be a lot of new jobs created. Because, again, some of the things people aren’t talking about in order to have machine learning, working in a real world environment. And in a production setting, you need somebody that’s kind of keeping an eye on it over time, you need somebody that’s helping keeping it trained over time, I refer to those as machine learning assistants. And so for all the jobs that are going to go away, because maybe somebody is doing a very routine manual tasks, there’s a new set of jobs that are going to open up to helping keep the machine learning algorithms trained over time. The other point I would make is a lot of people rush to judgment about it’s going to automate jobs. Well, there’s a certain volatility to the workforce, that’s always present, right? So sure, there’s gonna be some jobs that go away. I suggest first, when you do see a job, maybe that gets automated away, answer the question, should that have ever been done by a human in the first place? Because for me, the you know, a lot of the jobs that I see that maybe are going to go away in the near term, their jobs, that we shouldn’t have people doing them, the only reason we have people doing them is because we didn’t have technology before, if we had technology before, we just said, of course, we don’t want humans doing looking at a screen for multiple hours, throughout the day to try to find small changes, or try to detect if there’s a knife or a gun in a bag. You know, that’s just, that’s not something we should have people doing. It doesn’t make use of human talent, right? And so it’s just now we have capability that may be able to do that in place of a human. And that’s actually a good thing.

Alexander Ferguson 4:18
How should businesses handle the unavoidable implementation of artificial intelligence?

Robbie Allen 4:24
Well, I think it’s, you know, being transparent about it, because again, there’s nothing more detrimental to an organization then then not really tackling a problem head on and not really addressing it in an open manner, because, again, ultimately, I don’t think there’s a story for most companies to be worried about here. There’s not it’s not going to be the case that you’re going to go in and wipe out large portions of your organization due to automation. And again, if you are doing that is because it was such a routine task that, you know, again, that was the writing was on the wall eventually anyway. And so ultimately, it’s just being open about it. cuz, eventually, you know, there’s going to be more jobs that come up because of this, as I mentioned, the machine learning assistance. And so in general, I don’t see it as a major issue that most companies and you really need to worry about. So they shouldn’t really hide from it, they should tackle it head on, I think the biggest thing is just to not be afraid of it. Right. And, you know, there’s some, some people that get nervous, and it’s mostly a perception thing. Again, it’s not I don’t think, actually based in reality that they’re concerned that, you know, people are gonna say, Oh, we have a machine learning project, what are you trying to automate me out of a job, when in practice, I just don’t see that, you know, I’ve been running companies that have been facing this issue since 2010. And I’m just not aware of, you know, virtually anybody losing a job due to, you know, advanced use of machine learning or data science. And so that tends to be a concern that often people have, and it’s, again, it’s not some, it’s not something that you should avoid, but I think you should address it head on and just be comforted to know that is typically not a concern that you’re going to be wiping out large portions of your workforce.

Alexander Ferguson 6:01
Will machines ever be able to perform any intellectual tasks a human can

Robbie Allen 6:06
AGI Artificial General Intelligence is, you know, had been talked about quite a bit. And a lot of people are wondering when is it going to happen? And you know, there’s a study that often cite that happened, I think it was 2016 or so, where 300 AI researchers were asked, you know, when will all human activity be automated? Essentially, when will we have AGI? And the answer is obviously varied. But the the average of these 300 experts was more than 100 years from now. And, you know, for me, I have a hard time predicting something five years from now, if you’re saying something’s gonna happen, even 3040 50 years from now, that’s just a guess, really, again, if you go back to what I was saying before, with the rate of innovation is growing even faster, to be able to predict what’s gonna, what the world’s gonna look like, in 30 years, I just don’t think is realistic. And so the word we’re at today is there’s nothing in the research literature that points to us being able to develop AGI anytime soon. Now, again, that’s not to say that it won’t happen eventually. But the notion that we’ll be able to create software or robotics that essentially a sentient, you know, has a conscious and can think and act on its own. You know, that’s still in the realm of sci fi right now. And despite everything you hear, and all the people that talk about it, it’s just not a realistic thing. Right now, that’s a juicy topic, you know, that people get really interested in right, it kind of ushers in thoughts of Terminator and all of these things, when, again, I’m not going to be one to say that it’s impossible, but I’m just also trying to be realistic about it. And that, despite all the effort and work that’s gone into trying to simulate what the human brain does, we’re really not even you know, that much closer than we were 10 years ago.

Alexander Ferguson 7:44
That concludes the audio version of this episode. To see the original and more visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company, we should interview you can nominate them at UpTech Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you subscribe to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.


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