Is Technology a Threat?

The words artificial intelligence and machine learning are constantly thrown around. This post isn’t going to try to explain them with my limited knowledge, but I do intend on writing an article about them at some point, which I’ll re-post here on Medium. I want to talk about how they might affect young people like myself.

Young people, especially students, are under tremendous amounts of pressure. I’m set to graduate from high school at the end of this year, and the current ‘in-thing’ seems to be to discuss university, and what we want to study there, among other future-related stuff.

Children, from the age they learn to speak, are constantly asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” We used to respond jokingly and think of all the fun jobs available. Now, that’s changed.

By this time, we’re expected to have some idea, and choose our subjects and apply to universities accordingly. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Oh here’s another teenager not sure of what he wants to do and complaining about social pressure to choose.”

But it’s not that. (I’m not denying that pressure exists, it completely does, but:) I am one in the minority who has some idea of what I want to do. Sure, it’s subject to change and all, but I at least know what I want to study at university.

But I have one major concern.

What if the job I dream of having no longer exists?

The question, is a very real one, at least for my generation. In an age of rapid technological advancements, jobs are being replaced all the time. Just recently, I read somewhere that Goldman Sachs replaced a load of employees with software. My dad constantly tells me similar stories.

It’s not just that jobs are disappearing and new ones are being created, like with what has been happening for time immemorial. The classic example of the stagecoach drivers being out of a job thanks to the invention of the automobile, but at least there were jobs being created due to its invention. Now, on the other hand, now the cars are driving themselves!

I have a genuine interest in STEM, especially to do with computer science & engineering, so for a while I thought I’ll be immune to such structural changes. My logic was that, instead of being replaced, I can just build computers to replace people, that way at least my job will be safe, right? (Yeah, it’s mean, I know.)

NOPE.

Turns out I was wrong, thanks to MIT Tech Review. AI might be able to code itself? Then what will people do? That’s something to think about.

The number of jobs is ever-shrinking. The advice of learning a trade or skill may no longer be helpful. It turns out that no job is safe. Then what are we to do?

I’ll definitely admit, technology has a plethora of advantages to mankind, and I absolutely love it. But when does it cross the line? And I’m not talking about things like robots taking over the world and killing us all Terminator style. If every company automates a majority of its workforce, where do all the employees go? Retraining doesn’t seem to be an option when there’s no jobs available. Can everyone be an entrepreneur?

I’ll be writing a follow-up article to this next week, so stay tuned!

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