For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Rulers of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of artificial intelligence"

by Kaplan, Andreas; Haenlein, Michael (2020)


A decade ago, we published an article in Business Horizons about the challenges and opportunities of social media with a call to action: “Users of the world, unite!” To celebrate its anniversary, we look at artificial intelligence and the need to create the rules necessary for peaceful coexistence between humanity and AI. Hence, we now are urging: “Rulers of the world, unite!” In this article, we outline six debates surrounding AI in areas like artificial superintelligence, geographical progress, and robotics; in doing so, we shed light on what is fact and what is utopia. Then, using the PESTEL framework, we talk about the six dilemmas of AI and its potential threat and use. Finally, we provide six directions on the future of AI regarding its requirements and expectations, looking at enforcement, employment, ethics, education, entente, and evolution. Understanding AI’s potential future will enable governments, corporations, and societies at large (i.e., the rulers of this world) to prepare for its challenges and opportunities. This way, we can avoid a scenario in which we return in 10 years to write the article: “Dreamers of the world, unite!”

Key Passage

It seems that, at some point, every discussion of AIturns to the issue of layoffs and the question ofwhether human workers are still needed if ma-chines can do everything. The underlying argu-ment goes back nearly a century when, in 1930,John Keynes introduced the concept of techno-logical unemployment. In theirfamous study, “The Future of Employment”,Freyand Osborne noted that 47% of total U.S.employment may be subject to automation. Whilesome argue that technological change has alwaysdestroyed some jobs and created others in ex-change (e.g., the introduction of the car trans-formed many carriage drivers into chauffeurs),others say that a sufficiently advanced AI systemcan do everything better and cheaper than humansever could. In sucha world, why would one want to employ humansfor anything? When cars became more prominent,horses, which used to be a key form of trans-portation at the time, essentially vanished fromour streets. Sure, some still are around for racingbut for the average Tennessee Walking Horse or Appaloosa there really was no job anymore and their prospects looked relatively grim.Yet such a negative outlook is not necessarily likely. An average employee performs dozens if not hundreds of different tasks in a given day and onlya few of them can actually be taken over by ma-chines. Given the high cost of purchasing an AI system as well as customizing and maintaining it, itseems unlikely that firms will replace humans bymachines if those machines can only do part oftheir job. Other types of employment, includingthose  relying  on  feeling  tasks, will probably become even more important in future. The World Economic Forum predicted that over 50 million newjobs will be created through AI in the next 5 years.It seems likely that the future of automation lies injob enhancement instead of job displacement with AI sys-tems taking over routine and boring tasks thathuman employees preferred not to do in the firstplace, at least in the short to medium term. (p.43)


Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Superintelligence, Human-Machine Symbiosis, Machine Learning, Robotics, Work Displacement



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