Crystal Ball Gazing – NHS Lecture Series Recap


Have you ever watched one of those movies with towering robots and silver skyscrapers and ghost towns? Science fiction movies and dystopian literature often predict that people will be replaced by technology in different job sectors and that robots will take over the world. This idea has evoked concern for the future and a fear of technology in many countries. However, in Marymount’s NHS Lecture Series, “Crystal Ball Gazing,” Navneet Vasishth explores the future of technologies that allow Artificial Intelligence to solve problems and create a huge impact on the way humans live.

Artificial Intelligence is a term that is often loosely thrown around. But, what does it really mean? According to Mr. Vasishth, AI is all about automating. AI is about giving machines the ability to perform routine tasks like lifting objects or moving about as well as cognitive tasks like understanding and interacting. With new technologies like robots, smartphones, Internet of Things, and Modular Cloud, our perception of AI is drastically changing. More people than ever are connected through a network of technologies, so the value of these networks is increasing. Fire, clothing, and electricity are examples of General Purpose Technologies that many of us no longer have to actively think about because of how advanced society has become.

With the explosion in the amount of algorithms, data, computer power, and storage, AI is becoming increasingly sophisticated. The tasks that AI technologies can already perform are numerous. In his talk, Mr. Vasishth explains how AI can detect emotions in a human, appear human-like, create art, and even defeat humans in board games like Go.

AI can assist and provide help to humans in the workplace. For example, Honda’s Hoko Assist robot is helping elderly patients in Japan become physically stronger—it has even helped patients with walking sticks learn how to walk independently. AI can also complement and collaborate with humans. Mr. Vasishth explained how autonomous robots are helping with routine tasks like

gardening, which is backbreaking work for Mexican immigrants in the USA. When robots take over physically straining jobs, humans become healthier and get more time to enhance their creative skills. Furthermore, AI can also be embedded in humans. For example, in Europe, 5000 people now have chips embedded in their hands—these chips are special because they contain the people’s financial information, which allows them to pay for products using their hands. Think about it: you would never need to risk losing your credit card anymore.

The rise of automation and dynamism is definitely new and exciting. However, it’s essential to not get carried away by these advancements, especially since we’re right at the beginning of the journey. According to Mr. Vasishth, digitization has affected and will continue to affect the job market. About 34% of jobs in retail, 44% of jobs in manufacturing, and 50% of jobs in transport and logistics are estimated to be at risk of automation by the year, 2035. While new occupations linked to new technologies will be created, most of these occupations will require highly educated and skilled employees. On the other hand, jobs with more routine tasks will be augmented or completely automated. Even job sectors that were never considered at risk due to technology have been directly or indirectly impacted. For example, the speed and convenience of online shopping has negatively impacted packaging industries like Tetra Pak, because the need for appealing food packaging is becoming increasingly irrelevant in our purchasing choices.

Since we are just at the beginning of a dynamic and futuristic journey, we do not know much about AI’s long-term impacts. We can continue to weigh out the pros and cons of AI forever, but the future will depend on where we draw the line.

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