Writing 08: Automation & AI

Artificial intelligence is definitely something to be embraced with caution. There are many sci-fi horror stories of AI completely absorbing the world in an utter chaos resulting in human destruction. For example, my mother thinks they will evolve to become more dominant than human beings. The reality, at least so it seems, is that humans are in control of the AI and that though they learn, it is almost always directed by human control. Therefore, if something like the scenario I just mentioned occured, it would lie on the human conscience, not some robotic super power. That said, the responsibility of AI clearly lies on the software developers. Software developers have the responsibility to develop AI that is safe, doesn’t cause harm, and upholds common moral standards. Engineers are not the only individuals in society who must hold responsibility for AI. Countless philosophers and great thinkers are and must ponder the issue of AI decision making. If AI evolve so closely to human nature, these individuals have the responsibility to debate and finalize essential questions. Should the AI of a self-driving car hit a child instead of an adult if it must? Should the car kill a driver? Should the AI choose to kill someone in self-defense? How do they determine what is reasonable for ‘self-defense.’ Though AI are incredibly promising, a lot of these decisions cannot be made my calculations and previous learning. Society has to inform these agents of notions regarding right and wrong–which is evidently hard to program. 


I believe AI and automation are amazing methods to improve quality of life and society. Though this is largely seen as a benefit, I understand the many costs. One of the articles mentioned that the most common job in the United States are truck drivers, which I found surprising. The article continued to explain that if driverless trucks were fully integrated, unemployment would soar. Though unemployment is certainly concerning, we have seen these types of revolutions before in the industrial revolution. A video in class mentioned an example when farming jobs were on the ultimate decline due to tractors and automation. To respond to this, society began to invest in high school education to provide a safety net for jobs. I believe today the situation is no different. Machines replacing workers should encourage workers to become more educated and get more jobs. As I am working for Amazon Robotics next year, I have thought about the implications of automating robots. I think that Amazon’s number one tenet is to be customer obsessed and focus on experience. Given this, the robots are enhancing customer experience through 1 day shipping and efficiency for floor workers. The concept as I understand it is trickle-down economics. Implementing robots makes Amazon efficient which allows them to spend more money on adding jobs with higher pay. In addition, the workers lives drastically improves as they don’t need to walk 15-20 miles a day. The end goal of society should be for everyone to have well-educated and better jobs. Our society must ensure the general workforce is educated enough to attain these jobs.