AI, Ethics

The Ikarus Take: Automation and Its Ethics

Lately, the news has been abuzz with articles about the disruptive nature of automation. There are many dire predictions about automation’s impact on human jobs, lives and the economy. In response to those predictions, some tech leaders have come forward to support the idea of a universal basic income (UBI), an unconditional monthly income for all citizens irrespective of their income. However, there seems to be plenty of disagreement about what the UBI would look like.

This week we look at an article that talks about an important aspect of the automation vs. jobs debate that is often ignored — “the ethics of code”. In the article, AI and the Economy Without You, GoDaddy’s CEO, Blake Irving implores the tech industry to be accountable for the implications of their work.

“We have an ethical opportunity to consider and attempt to address what will happen because of our code.”

Irving addresses the paranoia of losing jobs to automation by making an important distinction between ‘Narrow AI’ and ‘Strong AI’. Narrow AI can be tailored to do specific tasks that based on pattern-recognition and repetition, like performing the role of a personal assistant or managing the paperwork for your firm’s contractual obligations. Strong AI, or Superintelligence, can be expected to make decision based on context regardless of the situation. The threat from Strong AI is significantly lower than is assumed since its development will happen much further than is currently understood to happen. As Irving correctly notes, Narrow AI will be responsible for job displacement but the absorption of those jobs is possible.

The jobs that could be potentially gone due to Narrow AI do not include jobs where:

  • creativity is key (e.g., media professionals)
  • the human touch is essential (e.g., doctors)

At Ikarus, we think that Narrow AI presents us with an opportunity to restructure education and possibly influence the way work is perceived. The tech industry should utilize Narrow AI to remove drudgery from the task and replace it with tools that power creative problem-solving and develop efficient workflows. However, like Irving mentions, intentionality is fundamental to this process.

“[I]f you are aware that the work you’re doing is going to displace jobs, you should be intentional in your effort to leverage technology to create new opportunities for the displaced.”

Read Irving’s entire article here:

Ikarus is a software company that develops solutions to automate manual repetitive tasks for businesses. We have created a Cognitive Process Automation framework which leverages advanced machine learning algorithms to work on unstructured text documents like invoices, forms, contracts and emails. Using our solutions, businesses can automate their processes with high accuracy and significant savings in cost and time.

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