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AI Robotics

VC Founder Predicts AI Will Take 50% Of All Human Jobs Within 10 Years (cnbc.com) 451

An anonymous reader quotes CNBC: Robots are likely to replace 50 percent of all jobs in the next decade, according to Kai-Fu Lee, founder of venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures and a top voice on tech in China. Artificial intelligence is the wave of the future, the influential technologist told CNBC, calling it the "singular thing that will be larger than all of human tech revolutions added together, including electricity, [the] industrial revolution, internet, mobile internet -- because AI is pervasive"...

For example, he said, companies in which his firm has invested can accomplish feats such as recognizing 3 million faces at the same time, or dispersing loans in eight seconds. "These are things that are superhuman, and we think this will be in every industry, will probably replace 50% of human jobs, create a huge amount of wealth for mankind and wipe out poverty," Lee said, later adding that he expected that displacement to occur in the next 10 years.

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VC Founder Predicts AI Will Take 50% Of All Human Jobs Within 10 Years

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  • Sooner, or later (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    While this schedule seems a little too aggressive, such a thing will happen eventually. Others put it at 25-30 years out. We need to modify our economic systems, now, to prevent future chaos (and, perhaps, revolution).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If the jobs are gone, how are the people going to live? Significantly disgruntled people, armed and/or in larger groups, are really going to increase the maintenance costs of AI...

    • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday April 30, 2017 @08:45PM (#54331235)
      In horrific poverty lacking food security.
    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday April 30, 2017 @09:21PM (#54331359)

      If the jobs are gone, how are the people going to live?

      The bottom quintile of households already get 40% of their income from redistribution. If the "AI revolution" really does lower the cost of production to the point that it is no longer worth paying a human to make stuff, then everything will be so cheap that even today's level of redistribution will mean enough for everyone.

      • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Sunday April 30, 2017 @11:07PM (#54331645) Journal

        Or the top 2% will own the means of production therefore ensuring monopolies with high prices.

        You think a Mom and Pop shop can buy $90,000 worth of robots to start a business?

        • You think a Mom and Pop shop can buy $90,000 worth of robots to start a business?

          Why do you think a robot will cost $90k? Robots will drop in price just as fast as everything else. 100 pounds of aluminum currently costs about $90. Once human bauxite miners are replaced with robot miners, it will cost even less. Just use a sintering 3D printer to make the parts, and the rest is just software, which has a marginal cost of $0.

          The first automobiles were luxuries that cost ten times the median annual salary. Early computers cost millions. Today, cars and computers can be owned by anyon

          • Why do you think a robot will cost $90k?

            Because people will always want the latest and greatest.

          • The robots will probably cost $90k, $5k/year to maintain, and $15k/year to fuel. They'll also likely do the work of 5 $20k/year workers for that. ROI will be slightly over 1 year.

            Billy Gates is posing a false dichotomy and misrepresenting facts, though: basically all businesses start with a small business loan, and $90k is nothing. I've seen people with little more than a high school diploma get near $1M out of a bank for an LLC to open up a gay-themed coffee shop (in an area with lots of gay people b

      • The bottom quintile of households already get 40% of their income from redistribution.

        Actually, our welfare system is so shoddy the bottom quintile in the US usually live off what they have. I've worked with people who made under $20,000, no welfare, and supported themselves and a non-working dependent (girlfriend); it's doable, albeit shitty. Note that that's a full-time, 40-hour, barely-above-minimum-wage job (at the time, minimum wage was around $7/hr); most minimum-wage workers are getting part-time, unstable hours, so living off minimum-wage is hard because you don't usually actually

    • Significantly disgruntled people, armed and/or in larger groups, are really going to increase the maintenance costs of AI

      First, the rich could just kill all poor humans. That is a very radical way to get rid of the problem, but possible. It could be out of some ecological argument, that if you created full economic equality for all humans, the earth would be so abused within a few decades, it wouldn't be a nice place to live.

      They could drive a very gentle approach: legalize some cool new drug that maybe makes infertile when being used too much. Then the poor would become less every generation.

      I doubt that will happen though,

    • Robots are getting pretty good at building walls ...
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Teach the students to code apps using more teachers, GUI code examples and toy robot parts.
      Consider jobs of existing workers like robot removal technician. A human sitting at a desk watching robots remove and pack up other robots that have stopped working on CCTV. Cheaper to replace a robot than fix it on site?
      Watch and sign over other robots installing the replacement robot.
      The people who will never be trainable will just go on to means tested https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] benefits as they move fr
    • Significantly disgruntled people, armed and/or in larger groups, are really going to increase the maintenance costs of AI...

      Terminators... or something like them...

      Sooner or later, an army will equip battle robots, first as close support heavy weapons mechs to work with humans in warzones, they are who stick their heads around corners and provide suppression fire.

      Then they will come home... not to take us over like in The Terminator, but to obey their elite masters without question...

  • before I heartily endorse this, and all other, predictions about $TECHNOLOGY in the future.
    • before I heartily endorse this, and all other, predictions about $TECHNOLOGY in the future.

      I keep my jetpack in my flying car so it's always close at hand.

      • ....

        I keep my jetpack in my flying car so it's always close at hand.

        Because you never know when you're flying car's gonna break down and don't want to get stuck up there on the astro highway.

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Sunday April 30, 2017 @08:43PM (#54331219)

    Whole new homes in some Chinese subdivisions being built by robots!

    The other day, from a distance, I saw a whole section of a shipping yard in Rotterdam entirely being managed by robots. I saw exactly 3 human beings driving around. This is in an area the size of 8 football fields and tens of thousands of shipping containers.

  • Basic Income (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 30, 2017 @08:45PM (#54331237)

    "Creat[ing] a huge amount of wealth" won't "wipe out poverty" unless we find a new method for distributing that wealth.

    • by Mitreya ( 579078 )

      likely to replace 50% of all *existing* human jobs

      That is a true statement, but I don't see AI advances generating more than 2%-5% of new jobs.
      Unless you care to tell me where 50% of new replacement jobs will come from? AI trainers?

  • welcome to the welfare state.
  • *facepalm* (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DivineKnight ( 3763507 ) on Sunday April 30, 2017 @09:17PM (#54331333)

    The people who understand least about how AI technology works are heralding its imminent takeover of our society.

  • The poor will starve pretty fast, so the claim this will wipe out poverty checks out.
  • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <{skennedy} {at} {tpno-co.org}> on Sunday April 30, 2017 @09:20PM (#54331351) Homepage

    Reading this, I think I begin to understand how startups are able to convinced fools....erh, eh hem..."venture capitalists" to part with those millions.

  • by seven of five ( 578993 ) on Sunday April 30, 2017 @09:25PM (#54331367)
    To "disperse" a loan means to scatter it about.
    To "disburse" a loan means to get money from the bank.
  • "These are things that are superhuman, and we think this will be in every industry, will probably replace 50% of human jobs, create a huge amount of wealth for mankind and wipe out poverty," Lee said.

    Theoretically, this could indeed wipe out poverty, if, say, all of those replaced humans are automatically given the profit generated by their AI replacement (leaving them free to pursue separate businesses, leisure activities, etc.). If, however, the corporation that owns the AIs decided to keep the profits, poverty would be drastically increased.
    Which do you think is more likely? Distribution of profits to unemployed people, or distribution of profits to wealthy C-level executives and investors?

    • Which do you think is more likely? Distribution of profits to unemployed people, or distribution of profits to wealthy C-level executives and investors?

      For the most part in this case: Neither. As robots/AI decrease the cost of a good or service, the good or service sells for less.

      • In a perfect world where the profit itself remains stable... then yes.. as the production cost goes down.. the outward cost to the consumer goes down.. but that will never happen... Companies are not investing in AI to make "cheaper" goods.. they are doing it to increase profits.. which means THEIR value goes up.. the outward cost will remain as it is.. which mean increased profits.. And with a reduced head count, the ancillary costs of human workers goes away further increasing the cost.. (Enticement progr

    • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Monday May 01, 2017 @12:37AM (#54331841) Journal

      Theoretically, this could indeed wipe out poverty, ....

      Very funny.

      Poverty exists not because of a lack of resources or productivity. Poverty exists because of the extreme unequal distribution of wealth. If there was the political will to fix wealth distribution, we could eliminate poverty today.

      So, no, AIs will not wipe out poverty. AIs will increase wealth inequality and with it, increase poverty.

  • by SwashbucklingCowboy ( 727629 ) on Sunday April 30, 2017 @09:46PM (#54331413)

    But within 20 years? Yeah, could happen.

  • Just as the computer industry has been horrible for employment - all those computing jobs stolen by machines. Work expands to new fields once old ones are satisfied.

    I have no doubt that 50% of all current jobs will at least be threatened within 10 years. And I have no doubt that the number of people employed will INCREASE.

  • by Dutchmaan ( 442553 ) on Sunday April 30, 2017 @09:52PM (#54331439) Homepage
    ...and in the 50's nuclear power was going to provide so much energy that it would be "too cheap to meter"... Two things man does exceptionally well.. over estimate himself and under estimate nature.
  • Nobody can predict the future, especially for technologies not invented yet.. What was Kai-Fu Lee doing in 2007 (ten years ago)? He was working for Google China. We all know how that went.

    -Matt

    • Re:Future Babble (Score:4, Interesting)

      by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Sunday April 30, 2017 @11:27PM (#54331681) Homepage Journal

      Nobody can predict the future, especially for technologies not invented yet.

      Sure people can. Arthur C. Clarke predicted satellites and Karel Capek predicted robots. And George Orwell and Franz Kafka might just have had their timing slightly off.

      • by CPIMatt ( 206195 )

        This is survivor's fallacy. Think about all the other thousands, millions maybe, predictions that did not come true. Clarke also had a bizarre prediction about bio-engineered "super chimpanzees". I don't know about you, but my helper monkey is worthless most of the time.

        -Matt

        • by arth1 ( 260657 )

          This is survivor's fallacy.

          No, it is not. I never said reliably. But there were predictions made that did come true, which falsifies the claim that nobody can predict the future. You only need a single instance to falsify a claim, but cannot prove anything through majority. Claiming that nobody can predict the future and backing it up with any number of examples of failed predictions is indeed a No Black Swans fallacy.

          Or to put it another way, I can with high certainty predict who will win the World Series and UEFA cup next year.

          • I will also have a much larger number of failed predictions. That does not invalidate the correct predictions.

            It sure as hell does.
            It's the ratio of correct to incorrect predictions that determines predictive ability.

  • Yes AI can rapidly replace human employment but only if society adapts so that massive rebellion and economic collapse do not occur. Those that do not work must be supplied by a real income and not a bare bones income. If they have no income they can not purchase and the potential market ceases to exist thus defeating automation and A I completely. So we will have to find a way to pay people not to work that the public can accept as a requirement of a great new system. Imagine how you would feel if your
  • Bullshit (Score:5, Funny)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Sunday April 30, 2017 @11:04PM (#54331635)

    "Robots are likely to replace 50 percent of all jobs in the next decade, according to Kai-Fu Lee"

    Bullshit. It's unlikely in the extreme that half of all jobs will be taken by robots in 10 years. It'll take at least 12 or 15years before that happens.

  • "create a huge amount of wealth for the 1% and increase poverty overall"
  • by sdinfoserv ( 1793266 ) on Sunday April 30, 2017 @11:57PM (#54331745) Homepage
    Follow the proposed thought.... "1/2 of all jobs gone".. that means 1/2 the people on the planet have ZERO income or are dependent on government handouts for survival. So, who, exactly, is spending the money on the goods and services so the remaining working 1/2 can be "wealthy"? And will those working permit taxes high enough to support those without jobs? hardly. Remember that the great depression in the US crashed experienced a 25% unemployment rate.
    Sorry, in a capitalist society, put enough people out of work and the system collapses. Period. Just look at Detroit or any major steel based City on the East coast.
  • by RubberDogBone ( 851604 ) on Sunday April 30, 2017 @11:59PM (#54331749)

    50% in 10 years seems awfully optimistic. But suppose it's 50% in 20 years. It really does not matter, but this does:

    What are all these soon to be unemployed people supposed to DO, exactly?

    The people aren't going to vanish the moment they are made redundant. They'll still be here, needing to pay the same bills and eat and so on. And the birthrate isn't slowing down. We are making more and more people every day and they'll all need jobs too.

    History has repeatedly shown that high unemployment with no hope of finding work leads to massive crime as people have nothing else to do and no options. It can be argued society does not owe anyone a job or welfare payments just for existing. Fine. But society won't like or want what happens when AI takes away so many jobs. The civil unrest WILL be society's problem to solve.

    I don't see a way out unless we have massive population curbs, which simply will not happen. It will probably get much worse as people with nothing else to do will spend a lot of time making babies. I am just glad I have no kids who will have to live in the world that should be going to hell in a hurry around the time I die.

  • If you replace all the horse drawn carriages with automobiles, what will all the stable hands, whip makers, and wagon makers do! The sky is falling! Let's turn communist while we still can, lest everybody starve!

  • Personal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday May 01, 2017 @02:10AM (#54331997) Journal

    AI predictions should all be taken with a grain of salt.

    However, my wife recently told me about a consumer product CAD software demo she saw at a trade show that would more or less eliminate her job, or at least greatly reduce the people employed in her specialty.

    Using large databases of existing drawings of particular product types, along with AI, it would guess most of the design specifics based off rough sketches and operator selections of similar designs from the database, Google-image-search-like. It also automatically generates different sizes, such as shoe sizes. Humans then tune the result.

    Her job is a well-paying position right now if you are good. Such software would still require design inspectors and tuners, but that's less labor intensive than direct from-scratch CAD. If half your profession's labor is made obsolete, your wages and career options will likely drop.

    She gives her profession about 5 more viable years.

    • You have one of the best posts on this topic...

      It isn't all-or-nothing, there is a gray area... humans will still be needed, but as more things become "human helper to the robot" type thing, it reduces the options...

  • First, "robots" are not "AI". Robots are generally driven by low-level automation that does not even qualify as weak AI (i.e. the "AI" with no actual intelligence). Second, 50% of all jobs in 10 years? No way. Even the administrative processes for that would take longer if the technology was available, ready, reliable and well understood.

    Basically all this shows is how clueless VCs are.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday May 01, 2017 @05:04AM (#54332257) Journal
    Over the next decade, more than 50% of the wealth of the venture capitalists will be eaten by people peddling AI technologies.
  • by Simulant ( 528590 ) on Monday May 01, 2017 @07:16AM (#54332561) Journal
    "..."will probably replace 50% of human jobs, create a huge amount of wealth for mankind and wipe out poverty,"

    How is this supposed to happen as opposed to "Create a huge amount of wealth for a tiny minority and increase poverty."?

    Serious question.
  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Monday May 01, 2017 @07:51AM (#54332685)

    Not long ago, the demand for a $15 minimum hourly wage was brought up. The greedy corporate answer? Install automation instead. Because it's cheaper.

    Back when going to college didn't mean taking out a mortgage-level loan, think about what you did to pay for it. Perhaps you worked a cash register, at a grocery store or a fast food restaurant. Or perhaps you worked as a waiter or waitress. These are exactly the kinds of lower level jobs that are being targeted for eradication by automation.

    We tell all young people in order to succeed one must climb the proverbial ladder of success. However, when Greed chooses to remove the last four or five rungs from that ladder, it tends to make it rather impossible for anyone to climb.

    You really only have to destroy 10 - 20% to create chaos. By the time we reach 50%, the global Welfare state will be established.

    Oh, and once you remove the point of human employment, you also tend to remove the point of educating a human, so higher education will become an extinct concept as well.

  • by kilfarsnar ( 561956 ) on Monday May 01, 2017 @08:13AM (#54332773)

    "These are things that are superhuman, and we think this will be in every industry, will probably replace 50% of human jobs, create a huge amount of wealth for mankind and wipe out poverty,"

    So, he thinks we will replace 50% of human jobs and that will somehow wipe out poverty? It seems he hasn't noticed that when a huge amount of wealth is created, it often doesn't result in reducing poverty. Will AI be replacing Capitalism too?

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Monday May 01, 2017 @08:37AM (#54332873)

    I was a network manager for a community bank years ago - we had software that could evaluate consumer and business loan applications and decide whether or not the applicant was a high or low risk candidate.

    We didn't lay off any loan officers - the software made the humans more accurate and productive - but did not replace the humans.

    We also had machines to take deposits and give out cash - yet our branches were still staffed by tellers and branch managers.

    The pharmaceutical industry has robotic dispensers that outperform human pharmacists in speed and accuracy - yet we still have humans dispensing prescription drugs.

    After 9-11 commercial aircraft manufacturers and the government became very interested in autonomous and remote control aircraft. I'm sure pilotless aircraft could be here today - if we wanted it.

    The issue is not AI - but the public acceptance of AI. AI will move faster than the public will accept it.

    AI will not disrupt the world quickly simply because humans will take a long time to trust AI for business critical or safety related tasks.

    Finally, for AI to succeed the "EULA" as we now know it will need to die. No one is going to put AI in a critical role unless there is some human willing to take responsibility for adverse consequences that may occur.

    AI has a long road to climb - don't believe the AI salesmen when they say they will run the world in 10 years - humans move way too slowly for that to be the case.

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