The impending evisceration of the global job market by artificial intelligence and robotic automation is well-trodden territory. Various estimates suggest the American employment mill could shrink by 30% by the year 2025. The United Nations’ assessment is even grimmer. They project two-thirds of the human workforce will be replaced in the next decade. Usually, the major sectors included in these loss reports are manufacturing, retail, and blue collar jobs. However, a new analysis suggests white collar jobs are not immune, and now the world’s largest hedge fund is replacing its managers with artificial intelligence.
The firm Bridgewater Associates, which manages $160 billion worth of assets, tasked a team of its engineers with creating AI software that can automate decision-making and eliminate emotion from financial analysis. Leading the effort is the same man, David Ferrucci, who helmed IBM’s supercomputer Watson, which became famous in 2011 for beating humans at Jeopardy!
Now Ferrucci is developing the ambitious PriOS management software that Bridgewater anticipates will make three-quarters of its decisions within just five years.
Devin Fidler, a research director working on a similar project for Institute of the Future, says Bridgewater’s goal is reasonable.
“People have a bad day and it then colors their perception of the world and they make different decisions. In a hedge fund that’s a big deal,” Fidler says.
He suggests one of the biggest challenges will be getting the company’s humans to accept the word of a machine.
“People tend not to accept a message delivered by a machine. In companies that are really good at data analytics, very often the decision is made by a statistical algorithm but the decision is conveyed by somebody who can put it in an emotional context.”
Futurist Zoltan Istvan previously told Anti-Media that automation will decimate the job market so substantially that a Universal Basic Income (UBI) will become necessary. He disagrees with Fidler’s assessment, pointing out that humans have followed the lead of machines for years when it comes to autopilot and GPS. Humans have also become quite trusting of algorithmic artificial intelligence, the very mechanism by which automation is becoming so financially lucrative to companies’ bottom lines.
Istvan recommends humans get used to jobs disappearing, and not just blue collar jobs.
“The facts are very simple: AI will be better at everyone’s job. The sole exception is the career of being an artist, as those jobs are subjective, but any nuts and bolts / performance type jobs will soon be on the chopping block, up for grabs to the best AI and robot makers.”
A report by Accenture, a digital consulting firm, surveyed 1,770 managers across 14 countries to gauge the impact of artificial intelligence. The authors of the studied concluded:
“AI will ultimately prove to be cheaper, more efficient, and potentially more impartial in its actions than human beings.”
It appears white collar jobs are just as much on the chopping block as blue collar jobs.
“Bankers will become dinosaurs,” Istvan says.
Are any jobs safe? Istvan believes artists and creatives may be uniquely situated to withstand the automation takeover. But with AI taking over the jobs of hedge fund managers and bankers, one has to wonder how long creativity will remain the sovereign territory of humans. A writers’ room of robots could save networks and studios billions.
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