Social Impact of AI. A possible scenario.
“Artificial Intelligence heralds dramatic potential for growth for both the economy and for humans.”
It’s projected that labor productivity will increase 40% due to the impact of AI technologies on business. To provide even more perspective, AI has the potential to be 3,000 times more disruptive to society than the Industrial Revolution.
Why is this so?
Artificial intelligence has the unique ability to dramatically improve the efficiencies of our common workplaces and augment the tasks that humans are able to do. It’s by having AI take over repetitive or dangerous labor, that humans are freed up to do work that they are better equipped for — namely tasks that require creativity, ingenuity, problem-solving and empathy among others.
By transcending the current capacity thresholds of labor and capital, Artificial Intelligence offers the impetus for economic growth. Research reveals unprecedented opportunities for economical value creation around the world.
Unlike often predicted, there is currently no evidence that work as we know it is going away anytime soon. It’s true that automation is restructuring our idea of work — mainly by eliminating the need for certain types of labor, as it’s meant to do. Machines are instead complementing labor — increasing output that further increases the need for labor. There is the issue of polarization of the labor market, where we see wage gains going disproportionately to workers at the top and at the bottom, and not to those that fall the middle of the income and skill spectrum.
One school of thought is to have a system in which a large portion of the population receives guaranteed wages to lessen this gap. But rather than receiving handouts, the population would be better served by measures that stimulate the creation of well-paid “middle-class” jobs and thereby strengthen the fabric of our society.
If this sounds like we’re disputing the concept of Universal Basic Income — or UBI — it’s because we are. As defined by the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), UBI is “a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means-test or work requirement.”
In theory, this sounds like a wonderful concept. If people could enjoy a guaranteed quality of life without having to spend all of their time working, individuals could then “repay” the kindness through meaningful contributions to society.
So, what’s the problem? The best answer to this is that basic income:
Not only that but offering Universal Basic Income to citizens has been shown not to work, as is the case with a study in Finland.
So if UBI it’s shown not to work in the real world, why not offer job guarantees or a Universal Basic Guarantee program? The idea behind this increasingly-popular policy is that the government would provide a job for anyone that wants one because there are people who need a job and are willing to work — and there is most definitely work to be done.
In the U.S., the proposed job guarantee program is one that would provide 15 million workers jobs at $15 per hour with a substantial benefits package. The program is focused only on public service employment with jobs that provide care services — such as care for people, the environment, and for communities. This approach provides the best match of the program’s labor force with the needs of their communities.
Do you want to know how we have helped to create better policies, more effective budgets and earlier interventions with Artificial Intelligence?
Bolstering the workforce with willing employees in the area of social care would greatly benefit care for the elderly and for children in underserved communities. There’s also the growing area of green jobs where workers could be allocated to help sustain the planet and preserve the environment.
The guaranteed job approach does a couple of integral things. First, it supports people’s dignity and fulfillment. Rather than being handed a small check that barely covers basic monthly expenses, a public service job gives people a role and place of significance in society.
Secondly, full employment — or having demand in the present economy to support all workers that would like to work — would raise subpar wages and provide more promising opportunities, especially for low-wage workers. By having a minimum $15 per hour wage plus benefits guarantee become the new standard, government and private sector employers are thereby obligated to match or surpass the basic standard if they want to retain employees.
Of course, like any progressive policy, the Universal Job Guarantee program has its challenges. Some argue that a job guarantee — a system in which people are offered jobs in specific sectors — would perpetuate low productivity because people won’t feel motivated to do their best and may not care about the work they’re doing.
The other concern about a job guarantee policy is that it may put the government in a more commanding position where it ends up choosing people’s jobs for them.
So how do Artificial Intelligence and Citibeats solution play a part in this?
One method would be that the government creates these new jobs based on analyzing people’s concerns (social needs), and directing resources (job creation, investment) to these new social needs. This avoids the creation of “Bullshit jobs” (David Graeber).
Another method (Probably more naive) in combating the government’s role as the ultimate job decision-maker and placing people in jobs that they don’t care about is to find out what jobs people do want and are willing to work hard for. The best way to provide supply (service jobs) is to know the demand (eager workers).
How do we get the information in both cases? One way is to talk to people — ask them if they want to work and what job they’re willing to do. But obviously, in a society of millions of people, this approach would take a lot of time and be costly. Not only this but by the time any sort of actual conclusion could be drawn (from weeks to months), the landscape could change, resulting in a plan that’s no longer relevant or effective.
The advantage of Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing is that it’s able to cut through the clutter and gather data at a much more efficient rate. Citibeats could act as the work search engine, based on detecting people’s needs at scale, in real time.
The fact is that machine learning technology is able to analyze, extract, and make sense of chaotic information (social discourse) in a way that humans cannot. By creating viable data sets out of social data that citizens themselves are providing, policy-makers are better positioned to formulate actionable insights and provide attractive, real-world solutions.
If governments and institutions have a social tool to “tune in” to what potential workers want to do, they’re suddenly in a situation to be able to provide a job allocation system that provides work to those who are most qualified and willing to do the job.