Artificial Intelligence and unemployment

Concerns have been expressed that artificial intelligence is detrimental to the job growth as more automation means fewer jobs for common man. I agree that in the years to come lot of human activity will become redundant due to an increased ability of robots and intelligent machines, which not only can perform the tasks more efficiently than human but also take decisions which are as good as- and some times better than- humans. Imagine driver-less cars making many drivers unemployed, intelligent diagnostics replacing many a physician and numerous employment modes moving to intelligent machines.

While, this is intuitive to think that fewer human actions can sustain human civilization at the current level -unless destroyed by ourselves through undesired activities- what is not intuitive is that paid employment and jobs are not essential to human civilization. Human civilization has developed its economic structure based on the availability of workforce and the unattended tasks. Automation is NOT going to reduce human ability to do those tasks but improve it. Human civilization needs food, clothes, means of travel and health related support. Civilization’s ability to do these tasks is going to improve with the advent of intelligent machines. The problem really is how the product emerging from these automated systems will be made available to a common man. If more food is produced by machines in the farm due to intelligent systems or if a surgery can be performed by machines, why should that be charged exorbitantly under the excuse of artificial costs. These products and technologies should be available to common man at almost zero price. The big companies who own these products have developed these technologies not by simple investment of their money but through the serious efforts of humanity as a whole and the fruit of technology should be returned to the humanity at the cost prices without unfair profits. If the prices of items and services that humanity needs truly reflect the cost their production incurs in the current time scales, the real need for employment and jobs from a common job-seeker’s perspective would also be grossly reduced. After all, we will continue to produce more food, then why should a lot of people starve? This could happen only if the technologies based on artificial intelligence and any kind of automation and human knowledge are allowed to be controlled by private and monopolizing hands. To protect itself from  a disaster and chaos, humanity does not need to bother about unemployment, but focus its guns on trying to get a fair distribution of the produce and services that civilization has the ability to provide.

Why should all humans spend 8 hours in the office everyday,  if their seniors have already enabled machines to learn what to do and how!!

Predatory publishing

Open access has made life easier for readers by giving them a hassle free ability to read any article they choose. It has also made publishing of academic journals such an easy job that a new journal can be started by the click of a button! In this scenario, a whole jungle of research journals have emerged with the sole aim of earning money for effectively only putting some of the authors’ write ups on a web page. Authors with limited understanding of research publication process and those willing to compromise on the quality of their output with no real or perceived reputation to defend in the top of the academic community are easily attracted to a quick publication with little scrutiny of their work. National bodies such as UGC have not done their homework well and have often included such spurious and frivolous journals into their lists of “approved journals”. Apparently these agencies have tried to include everything that they could lay their hands on, because selecting journals based on their merit is a huge task for which they may have not had enough resources.

This situation presents challenges to the authors as well as readers. While, the authors are quite likely to take the course of such publications willingly, the non-specialist readers, young research students and beginners may be led to believe in an unsound scientific knowledge contained in these articles. After an initial group of such misinformed academics takes shape, they can reinforce each other and even outshout and out-cite good research and true scientific knowledge propagated by serious workers.

There is an urgent need to address this menace and save science from yet another threat looming over its horizon.