Imperative to rein in AI and make it function like a good workhorse

At a recent literary festival in Delhi, one of the members of the audience asked a question that sent shivers down my spine.
For reprentational purpose
For reprentational purpose

At a recent literary festival in Delhi, one of the members of the audience asked a question that sent shivers down my spine. I put on a brave face and answered it nonchalantly. My fellow panellists also gave answers similar to mine, but the question lingered in our minds and was a hot topic of discussion among all the participants.

The question was: Are you afraid AI-powered ChatGPT or Bard will replace writers soon? I replied, as of now, I don’t think any AI is powerful enough to replace me in storytelling.

Then my co-panellist, the senior editor of a prominent newspaper, interjected and said it might be true for creative stories, but AI generates articles with better flair and style than many seasoned journalists. In fact, many of the articles and news you have been reading might have been AI-generated.

If it can generate articles now, it is a matter of time before it can write stories too. Sooner or later, many of us may be looking for another profession to put idli and sambar on my banana leaf. Sorry, I don’t eat bread or butter and idioms of English are meant for Englishmen and not for bonafide Malayalis. 

Now, that it is settled that we will be unemployed soon and should be seeking some other profession, I decided to research which profession will be safe from AI invasion. I decided to ask the Jasper AI itself this question: Give me 10 jobs in India that AI will severely impact in the near future.

Here is the result generated in microseconds: “Data entry and document-processing clerks could be replaced by AI-driven automation tools. Customer service representatives may be replaced by automated chatbots that use natural language processing (NLP). The tasks of receptionists and administrative assistants can be undertaken more efficiently with the help of AI-enabled processes.

Warehouse workers might find their roles replaced by robots powered by AI algorithms and machine-learning models. Delivery drivers could eventually become obsolete as autonomous vehicles become increasingly advanced in the future. Bank-tellers may become redundant due to AI-powered banking systems.

Marketers would need to adapt quickly to new technologies such as NLP and predictive analytics powered by machine-learning algorithms to stay relevant in a digitised world. Journalists and content creators may soon be taken over by computer-generated content leveraging NLP technology.

The diagnosis and treatment recommendations of medical professionals such as nurses and doctors may rely heavily on AI-driven systems and applications going forward. Insurance agents, sales representatives, tax preparers and other financial services professionals, and advocates could potentially be replaced or their jobs drastically transformed due to advances in AI technology in the near future.”

Another search returned this result: “Nearly 69 per cent of jobs in India are under threat from automation in the next 20 years.”

If you thought your job was secure, think again. The future is here, and it’s bringing robots with a vengeance. Pretty much every job will be impacted by this development. The education we are providing to our children is already irrelevant. Now, the skills we have acquired over a lifetime will be redundant. This is scary, especially for a country like India that is on the verge of benefiting from our demographic dividend. 

When heavy machinery was introduced into farming, construction etc., it replaced manual labour but gave rise to new employment opportunities for people who knew how to handle the machines. Automobiles rendered the employment of bullock cart drivers irrelevant but gave rise to bigger employment opportunities for many professions like drivers, mechanics, etc. This wave of industrialisation will be far bigger than anything we have seen, and the disruption it will cause will be catastrophic. 

Our robot overlords are scary and powerful. But if we use them right, they could be our friends. Take my article here; no AI can write the lines I did because I only felt those anxious butterflies in my tummy when that tricky question was asked. In this article, in a long-standing column of over half a decade, 
I have taken the help of AI for the first time, yet it is my voice and opinion you are reading. This is the key to understanding how to use this monster as a workhorse. 

As much as they can hack their way into journalism or legal proceedings, these machines lack the distinct voice of an experienced journalist and lawyer or their people skills. In short, any job that just uses information, knowledge, repetitive skills and memory is going to be replaced by AI. Any job that depends on emotion, creativity, people skills and empathy will be safe.

Anand Neelakantan

Author of Asura, Ajaya series, Vanara and Bahubali trilogy

For now.

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