Artificial Intelligence: The Ignorance of Generations Y and Z

Artificial Intelligence: The Ignorance of Generations Y and Z

When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), a deep divide is revealed within generations Y and Z. While almost 40 percent of working 16- to 30-year-olds assume that AI will give them less work in ten years with a constant salary, 56 percent are extremely skeptical: they expect a higher pressure to perform, because AI can work faster and more effectively than humans. 39 Percent even equated AI with unemployment and are afraid of being replaced by AI in their own professional field. This was the result of a representative study by the cybersecurity company Kaspersky. Generation Y refers to those born between 1981 and 1995. The younger generations from 1995 onwards belong to Generation Z.

Astrid Carolus is not surprised by this supposed contradiction. “More than 40 percent of young people actually don’t really know their way around, many are guessing out of the blue,” says the media psychologist in the human-machine research department at the University of Würzburg. Critical media reports, the opinion of caregivers such as parents and friends and one’s own experience with technology made for a dubious half-knowledge.

Fear of redundant jobs

That is also why it is a must to approach the topic of AI – “for educational and economic reasons,” says Carolus: “We do not have to understand all AI, but we should roughly know what opportunities and risks are associated with it and how we want to deal with it.“

It could also be helpful for society and individuals to clarify in which areas AI is completely rejected. It is important to deal with the topic above all in order not to lag behind internationally, such as with the topic of digitization. For this, now, during the corona pandemic, is a good time, since people are used to changes in this upheaval phase and would not see them as a threat, but as a necessity.

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In any case, the fear of redundant jobs is not unfounded, as a study by the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) shows. According to this, 1.5 million jobs could be lost in Germany by 2025 due to digitization alone.

At the same time, however, just as many new ones would emerge. So far, experts are still talking about a weak AI that cannot replace humans. While it can solve problems such as pattern recognition or the evaluation of big data, it is not yet possible to solve rather mild problems without the intelligence of humans. Experts believe that a strong AI with the social skills and flexibility of a person can emerge in 20 to 40 years.

Only creeping entry of AI into the world of work

What some fear seems like a temptation to others. Almost half of those surveyed by Kaspersky believe that AI creates more space for creativity and communication, because monotonous and constantly repetitive activities in the job would be eliminated.

However, Sascha Stowasser may give you little hope for the next ten years. He does not believe that generations Y and Z will benefit so much from the development during this time that they will have to work less, says the professor of Labor Sciences and director of the Institute for Applied Labor Science of the Metal and Electrical Industry: “Regardless of how fast AI will develop, Germany has very high labor costs by international standards. Accordingly, such a massive change cannot be enforced economically, but also psychologically and technically.“

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Although AI is already firmly integrated into everyday life, for example on smartphones, in the past two years it has only noticed creeping changes in the world of work in this regard, says Stowasser.

More than half of the respondents in the study are at least convinced that artificial intelligence will bring about fundamental changes and that entire professional fields will dissolve and new ones will emerge. The worst chances are seen by sellers and taxi and bus drivers, but also by stock traders.

For media psychologist Carolus, the reason for this is clear: “Autonomous driving in particular was taken up in science fiction a long time ago. The media also repeatedly report about successful attempts – therefore, many believe that bus and taxi drivers are no longer needed.“

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For doctors, nurses and psychologists, on the other hand, the respondents see less risk of being displaced by AI. In these professions, the focus is on the person or his psyche.

New professional fields through AI

In order to keep up with the current technology, a fundamental willingness to change and learn is necessary, says Carolus: “The principle of doing an apprenticeship in a job and then carrying it out for life no longer works like this.“

Labor scientist Stowasser also recommends expanding personal responsibility and self-competence in order to be positively open to a new technology. Because it can also create new career fields: Ford Australia, Deakin University and Griffith University listed 100 possible job profiles last year.

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In the Kaspersky study, more than 42 percent of respondents considered the job of the problem solver for automated transit systems possible. Supported by AI, this detects problems in the transport network and can guarantee a smooth process.

Other potential professions that the respondents thought would be possible in ten years were the nostalgist, who creates a familiar environment for demented people, for example, through virtual reality, and a weather controller. This uses drone technology to influence the weather in favor of the global climate.

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