Artificial Intelligence: A Double-Edged Sword


In the age of bewilderment, where future change is unpredictable and humankind is also confronting unprecedented kinds of revolutions; old stories are crumbling with obsolete new transformations. Uncertainty, however, prevails everywhere. Nobody knows how the 21st century would look like and what kinds of skills are required to compete in the market. Like the past, humans are unable to prognosticate the past so accurately, because it all depends upon the technology that is in the surge of getting control of human bodies by using bio-engineering and brain-computer interaction. This is also known as the phenomenon of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and, substantially, going to change the societal makeup.

One thousand year ago, people were accustomed to anticipate about collapsing empires, changing dynasties and novelty in technology, but they never experienced the change in basic features of the society which is exactly going to happen in the next few decades. In contrast to this, today, there is no idea how China or the rest of the world will look in 2050; because the future belongs to technology.

Artificial Intelligence has deepened effects on our society; however, the consequences of the real implication of it are so far ahead. Furthermore, without any suspicion, it will exert pressure on the low skilled labour by replacing them in no time.

John Maynard Keynes – a renowned economist- postulated that technological change caused loss of jobs and developed his “technological unemployment theory” and by keeping the theory in mind, it can also be stated that AI can cause unemployment and urges people to upgrade their skills to survive in the race of existence. For example, robots have replaced waiters, managers, and even decision-makers in the large industries, and this is merely a trailer of a horror movie releasing in the near future.

In the result of concrete implication of Artificial Intelligence, logarithm or machine learning, large segment of society would lose their jobs that would lead towards increasing ratio of unemployment. Software such as recording, storing, and producing information, and executing programs, logic, and rules have been formulated that can easily perform activities like that of humans in an efficient way. In addition to this, the most exposed to robots include various kinds of materials movers in factories and warehouses, and tenders of factory, both of which have seen automation by robots are the recent evidence of the machine learning.

According to Zippia Research, AI could take the jobs of almost one billion people globally and make 375 jobs obsolete over the next decades. Moreover, it stated that by 2030, 45 million American people could lose their jobs to AI automation. 

The 21st century is flooded by enormous information and in this scenario; it has become imperative to get rid of old schools of teaching methodologies and outdated syllabus with expired information to meet the new upcoming challenges. Yuval Noah Harari, in his book ‘21 lessons for the 21st century’, proposes few suggestions which emphasize on improving mental skills of the students. In such a world, teachers need to equip students with abilities that make sense of information. Most pedagogical experts argue that schools ought to switch to teaching ‘the four Cs’- critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. Most importantly, education institutes need to downplay technical skills and abilities to deal with change, to learn new things, and to preserve your mental balance in unfamiliar situation. People should make their minds to encounter things that have never been faced, such as super-intelligent machines, engineered bodies, algorithms that can manipulate emotions with uncanny precision and lastly rapid man-made climate cataclysm. Mental flexibility and great reserves of emotional balance must be viewed as mandatory to flourish in such world.

In contrast to this, AI has also ability to create job opportunities for the humans. It could create 58 million jobs and generate $15.7 trillion for the economy by 2030 for just America while eliminating mundane tasks and helping workers enjoy more creativity. But, it stipulates highly sophisticated knowledge and skills.

It is evident that, in the future, reliance on single source for income will not favour the humans, but a constant change in behavior and aptitude seems to enhance the survival chances. On the other hand, the harder one has worked on building something, the more difficult it becomes to let go of it and make room for something new. Acquiring stability in the future life would be a difficult task for the humans.

In the perplexing situation, where Western nations can collapse, it is also pertinent to understand Pakistan’s position that seems, already, on the back seat in the technology-driven bus. In the world of science and technology, we are at the beginning of the 4th industrial revolution which is marked by the emerging technological breakthrough.

According to Gartner Inc. Global business value derived from artificial intelligence appears to increase from a value of $692 Million in 2017 to $1.2 trillion in 2018, and it is forecasted to reach $3.9 trillion by 2022. Pakistani diaspora in the Silicon Valley appears to be optimistic, because they think if the right decisions are made, Pakistani software exports may even reach $ 30 Billion by 2023.

Pakistan needs to be a part of the great revolution that is knocking on our doorsteps. Rather than be a consumer, we must become a player and manufacturer of the new systems, software and hardware, ensuring phenomenal economic dividends as well as our own security. We need to produce new talent for Pakistan, because their skills will also be in huge demand throughout the world. It goes without saying that Pakistan needs to raise the standard of higher education that demands new version of updated syllabus, highly efficient faculty members and productive environment with availability of all the indispensible modern facilities.

Tahir Abbas
Tahir Abbas
International Relations National Defence University Islamabad


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