Artificial intelligence will both disrupt and benefit the workplace, Stanford scholar says
Visiting scholar James Timbie says that the artificial intelligence revolution will involve humans and machines working together, with the best results coming from humans supported by intelligent machines.
Artificial intelligence offers both promise and peril as it revolutionizes the workplace, the economy and personal lives, says James Timbie of the Hoover Institution, who studies artificial intelligence and other technologies.
In tomorrow’s workplace, many routine jobs now performed by workers will increasingly be assumed by machines, leaving more complicated tasks to humans who see the big picture and possess interpersonal skills, a Stanford scholar says.
Artificial intelligence and other advancing technologies promise advances in health, safety and productivity, but large-scale economic disruptions are inevitable, said James Timbie, an Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He trained at Stanford as a physicist, served as a senior advisor at the State Department from 1983 to 2016 where he played a key role in arms control and disarmament, and now studies the impact of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.
Timbie discussed what the future may hold for workers in a chapter in the new book, Beyond Disruption: Technology’s Challenge to Governance, which he co-edited with Hoover’s George P. Shultz and Jim Hoagland. He was recently interviewed on the subject.
How will the emergence of artificial intelligence affect individual workers in the future?
Artificial intelligence combined with other advancing technologies – such as robotics and 3D printing – will lead to more efficient production of goods and services. Machines can be trained to perform a wide range of non-routine cognitive tasks, and advanced robotics can increasingly perform manual tasks. Society as a whole will benefit from increased productivity and lower costs, but many individual workers will be adversely affected. Research indicates that on the order of half of today’s workers are in industries vulnerable to disruption in the near term. In some cases – truck drivers – machines will replace workers. In other fields – education and medicine – work will be transformed, with machines assuming some tasks in close coordination with skilled humans performing other tasks.
Will well-paying “cognitive” jobs be lost to automation?
Many well-paying “cognitive” jobs are vulnerable to disruption, perhaps more over time than the well-paying factory jobs that were lost to globalization. A wide range of vulnerable occupations traditionally filled by well-educated, well-paid workers includes tax preparers, radiologists, paralegals, loan underwriters, insurance adjusters, financial analysts, translators, and even some journalists and software engineers.
How can humans and machines work together for greater efficiency and productivity?
One example is medical diagnosis. A diagnosis is a determination of how information on a patient fits into a pattern characteristic of a disease. This is something machines do well. Machines trained with the digital records and outcomes of millions of previous patients can produce a diagnosis for a sick patient, along with recommendations for treatment and perhaps further tests. Machines can take into account far more data and keep up with the latest research better than any doctor. The doctor’s primary role would be to convey the outcome to the patient, and help the patient understand and accept it, so the patient follows through with the treatment plan.
Research indicates that in many fields, the best results will come from humans supported by intelligent machines – a combination of a doctor and a machine, a teacher and a machine, etc. In the workplace of the near future, machines would continue to do the computational work they do well, while leaving other tasks to humans who see the big picture and have interpersonal skills.
How is the artificial intelligence revolution different from 20th–century labor and tech disruptions?
One big difference is the rate of change. The transition from manual labor to steam power, and the subsequent transition from steam to electricity, played out over decades. The mechanization of agriculture took a generation, so it was sufficient to educate the children of farmers with the new skills necessary for new occupations. Today the changes are coming so fast that many workers themselves will need to learn new skills for new jobs.
Another problem concerns inequality. Advancing technology increases national wealth and income, and the GDP grows. But these benefits are distributed unevenly. This growing inequality is a continuation of a long-term trend. According to Census Bureau data, median household income is about what it was in 1999, while GDP is up 38 percent. Most of the gains have gone to the upper end. The spread of automation contributes to this growing inequality in wealth and income.
Consider tax preparation software. A lot of people benefit because it is cheap and easy and they can do their taxes themselves. But many people who earned their living as tax preparers now find their jobs and income threatened.
How can society best protect workers and prepare them for this new future?
The challenge is to facilitate transitions to new occupations with new skills.
In addition, new jobs will be created even as traditional jobs disappear. Over the 200 years since the Luddite rebellion, a movement led by workers in 19th-century England who opposed the introduction of weaving technology, gains in productivity through advancing technology have led over time to new industries and new jobs. That could continue, or this time could be different.
In addition, there are more than 6 million job openings unfilled today, according to the Department of Labor. Employers cannot find qualified candidates for many well-paying jobs, which means there are potential opportunities for displaced workers with appropriate training.
These new jobs will not necessarily be in nearby locations, nor are they likely to pay as well, at least initially. New jobs require new skills.
Some advocate a guaranteed basic income. My view is that there is no shortage of work that needs to be done. Money is not the only thing; a sense of self-worth and standing in the community are also important. So, rather than pay people not to work, better to support transitions to new jobs.
The existing adjustment assistance program did not do much to counter the impact of job losses attributed to globalization; it could be expanded to provide income and assistance for training and relocation for layoffs due to automation as well as foreign competition.
Finally, the rapid pace of change reinforces the benefit of a habit of life-long education. Community colleges and internet courses provide low-cost education and training on a wide variety of subjects.
Pay attention to the decisions made by the provinces.
- China leads the world in numerous green energy categories.
- CO2 emissions in the country totaling more than all coal emissions in the U.S. have recently emerged.
- This seems to be an administrative-induced blip on the way towards a green energy tipping point.
NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller is coming back to Big Think to answer YOUR questions! Here's all you need to know to submit your science-related inquiries.
Big Think's amazing audience has responded so well to our videos from NASA astronomer and Assistant Director for Science Communication Michelle Thaller that we couldn't wait to bring her back for more!
And this time, she's ready to tackle any questions you're willing to throw at her, like, "How big is the Universe?", "Am I really made of stars?" or, "How long until Elon Musk starts a colony on Mars?"
All you have to do is submit your questions to the form below, and we'll use them for an upcoming Q+A session with Michelle. You know what to do, Big Thinkers!
Or how I learned to stop worrying and love my tsundoku.
- Many readers buy books with every intention of reading them only to let them linger on the shelf.
- Statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb believes surrounding ourselves with unread books enriches our lives as they remind us of all we don't know.
- The Japanese call this practice tsundoku, and it may provide lasting benefits.
Calling all big thinkers!
- The next Mega Millions drawing is scheduled for Oct. 23 at 11 pm E.T.
- The odds of any one ticket winning are about 1 in 300 million.
- This might be a record-setting jackpot, but that doesn't mean you have a better chance of winning.
The Mega Millions jackpot has soared to a record-setting $1.6 billion after Friday's drawing yielded no winners.
Now, thousands of people are snatching up $2 tickets ahead of Tuesday's drawing in an effort to score the unprecedented prize.
"Ultimately, these games, they're all about the jackpots," Gordon Medenica, Maryland's lottery and gaming director, told The Washington Post. "Mega Millions has already entered historic territory, but it's truly astounding to think that now the jackpot has reached an all-time world record. It's hard to overstate how exciting this is — but now it's really getting fun."
Each Mega Millions ticket contains five numbers ranging from 1 to 70 followed by a single number, known as an Easy/Quick Pick, that ranges from 1 to 25. To win the top jackpot, you need to match all six numbers, and you can choose whether to select each of them manually or have the machine do it for you. Either way, the odds of winning are absolutely abysmal.
The odds of winning
The odds that any one Mega Millions ticket wins the jackpot are 1 in 302,575,350, which is the total amount of number combinations.
That's another of saying that each ticket has a 0.00000033% probability of winning, or a 99.99999967% chance of losing. To put those odds in perspective, you have a better chance of being killed by a vending machine, dying in a terrorist attack on a plane, flipping heads on a coin toss 30 times in a row, getting struck by lightning, and hitting consecutive holes in one on the golf course than you do winning Mega Millions.
Bigger jackpots don't always mean bigger winnings
In 2017, Mega Millions officials changed the lottery rules to produce bigger jackpots less frequently, a move designed to drive ticket sales and boost hype around the multi-million-dollar top prizes. But just because the jackpots are bigger doesn't mean your ticket stands a better chance of winning more money. In fact, the opposite is true considering you're more likely to have to split your winnings with another person who selected the same numbers, as Matt Bailey, a professor analytics and operations, explained in a recent tweet.
We're off the chart! A little counter-intuitive, but $400M is still better than $1B. Bigger jackpots create a (designed) spike in ticket sales. The chance of shared jackpots increases lowering your average "winnings" per ticket. #MegaMillionsJackpot pic.twitter.com/uQYVqKZkQK
— Matt Bailey (@MattDavidBailey) October 20, 2018
Steep taxes on lottery winnings
The winner(s) of the Mega Millions lottery will choose to receive the winnings through an annuity spread over 30 years or through a lump sum, which in the case of this $1.6 billion jackpot would be $904,900,000. The federal government would immediately withhold 24% of the winnings, or $217 million, and you'd also face the top federal tax rate of 37 percent. State tax laws on lottery winnings can be as high as 8.8%, however you'd be doubly lucky to win and live in California, Delaware, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wyoming or Florida—these states don't tax lottery winnings.
In general, lottery winners can expect to forfeit about half of their winnings to the state over time.
Why waste the money?
So, is buying a Mega Millions ticket stupid investment given the virtual certainty you won't win the jackpot? Probably. But if you're the kind of person who doesn't mind shelling out a few bucks to do some harmless daydreaming or to scheme with your friends about what you'd do with the winnings, then it's money well spent. As CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger pointed out, most people don't really expect to win.
"Our obsession with lotteries, with gambling, is that unicorn feeling of, like, 'maybe it'll be me,'" she said. "They just want to take a moment out of their day to consider how to dream big."
The next Mega Millions drawing is scheduled for Oct. 23 at 11 pm E.T.
Money makes the world go 'round. Unfortunately, it can make both children and adults into materialists.
- Keeping a gratitude journal caused children to donate 60 percent more to charitable causes.
- Other methods suggested by researchers include daily gratitude reflection, gratitude posters, and keeping a "gratitude jar."
- Materialism has been shown to increase anxiety and depression and promote selfish attitudes and behavior.
The Boring Company plans to offer free rides in its prototype tunnel in Hawthorne, California in December.
- The prototype tunnel is about 2 miles long and contains electric skates that travel at top speeds of around 150 mph.
- This is the first tunnel from the company that will be open to the public.
- If successful, the prototype could help the company receive regulatory approval for much bigger projects in L.A. and beyond.
Anatomy and physiology professor David Harper claims a recent study in The Lancet is flawed.
- The low-carbohydrate group in a recent Lancet study were typically middle-aged, obese, sedentary, diabetic smokers.
- The study was not a randomized, controlled, double-blind experiment.
- Harper has been in ketosis for six years, and says it has profound effects on cancer patients, among other chronic ailments.
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