Contrary to fears that many jobs would be lost to machines through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), a study commissioned by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has established that this is unlikely to happen.
The report of the study published on the NCC’s website indicated that, rather, the technology would create more jobs.
The American Heritage Science Dictionary (2020) defines AI as the ability of a computer or other machine to perform actions thought to require intelligence. The actions include logical deduction and inference, creativity, the ability to make deductions based on past experience or insufficient or conflicting information, and the ability to understand language.
Presently in Nigeria, banks are already deploying this technology for their customer service. Some of the banks now use chatbots to respond to their customers’’ inquiries instead of customer care personnel.
According to the findings of the study, the technology will not create unemployment as it is being feared.
“Just like how the industrial revolution did not result in massive unemployment but created more jobs that required the re-tooling and re-skilling of the human workforce, AI is also more likely to do so,” the report titled ‘Ethical and Societal Impact of Artificial Intelligence’ stated.
It added that “generally, this research study concludes that AI, just like most technology, is and will continue to most positively impact the society, as long as it is used ethically, which is to be guided and monitored by continuous policy-making and multi-stakeholder efforts, as the technology itself evolves.
“Rather than replacing people in job roles, AI systems should be used to support repetitive and non-creative tasks.
An example is chatbots that are frequently used in customer relationship management.”
The report noted that although the AI systems could reasonably engage with consumers, they lacked the emotional capabilities necessary to detect and appropriately respond to the emotional states of consumers for building rapport.
“Nonetheless, as Society progresses and technologies increase, some changes must habitually occur and even when robotics and AI do not fully replicate human efforts, their effectiveness for routine work, in times of crisis and their capacity to help ginger further global innovations are critical in an ever-changing world with new appetites,” the report noted.
In the report, it was further stated that although the development of strong and responsible AI remained at the helm while discussing the benefits of the technology, the systems still have to be under human control.
“Design of systems that could potentially develop its own will through self-improvement might make it super-intelligent and far superior to human intellect. Although such super intelligence would help humanity eradicate war, poverty, and disease, it might overpower humanity itself. Hence, it is important that the goals of AI systems are cohesively aligned with humanity’s to avoid this Lagosphenomenon.
“It is also important to ensure that AI systems are not used as a replacement for humans in important and sensitive job roles, for example, policy, but rather as a tool for supporting job roles. On an optimistic note, in recent times, the worries of the loss of jobs, the reinforcement of biases, and infringements on data privacy appear to have been set aside since the onset of COVID 19 as AI-infused technologies have been employed to mitigate the spread of the virus.
“BlueDot, HealthMap, and Metabiota, AI systems, have reportedly flagged the virus in Wuhan China, nine days before it was announced by WHO, and have been fairly accurate in predicting its spread. There has been an acceleration of the use of robotics to do the jobs of humans who have been ordered to stay at home or who have been redeployed within the workplace.
“Robots, for example, are taking over cleaning in grocery stores and sorting at recycling centers. AI is also fostering an increased reliance on chatbots for customer service at companies such as PayPal and on machine-driven content monitoring on platforms such as YouTube. Robotic telepresence platforms are providing students in Japan with an “in-person” college graduation experience.
Robots are even replicating the noise fans make in stadiums during baseball games in Taiwan,” the report stated