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Why the Rise of Robots in the Labor Force May Spark an Inequality Crisis

8/04/15 4:25 PM EDT
The rise of artificial intelligence in the workplace is both positive and negative. It all depends on which side of the robot you stand, said Jerry Kaplan, author of 'Humans Need Not Apply'. 'If you are one of the people who owns the robots then things are going to be great because you are the owner of that automation,' said Kaplan. 'If you are the person whose job is being lost because the robot is doing the task that you used to do, then that’s a major problem.' Kaplan is currently a fellow at the Center for Legal Informatics at Stanford University. He teaches ethics and impact of artificial intelligence in the Computer Science Department. Kaplan called his book a 'call to arms' for the age of artificially intelligent machines because the question as to whether robots will be working for the benefit of mankind or simply the super-rich is very much in doubt. He said his history as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and lecturer offer him a front row seat to this latest industrial revolution. 'Robots that used to be confined to the factory floor are basically getting eyes and ears and the ability to engage in certain simple kinds of reasoning,' said Kaplan. 'Once you do that, you can take those robots and move them out into the field and make them work in human environments, alongside people, and have them do tasks that normally require human attention.' Kaplan said employees with jobs based upon simple manipulation should consider upgrading their skills, lest they lose their positions to robots. On the other hand, he said people who work in positions which require interpersonal relations can feel secure in their jobs for a long time to come.
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