The dangerous half-knowledge of generations Y and Z
The topic of artificial intelligence (AI) reveals a deep gulf within generations Y and Z. While almost 40 percent of working 16 – to 30-year-olds assume that AI will give them less work with a constant salary in ten years, 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 fear 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 belong to the generation Z.
Astrid Carolus is not surprised by this supposed contradiction. “More than 40 percent of young people don’t really know their way around, many are guessing into the blue,” says the media psychologist in the Human-Machine Research area at the University of Würzburg. Critical media reports, the opinion of caregivers such as parents and friends and their own experience with technology made for a dubious half-knowledge.
Fear of redundant jobs
That is why it is also a must to approach the topic of AI – “for educational and economic reasons,” says Carolus: “We do not have to understand all AI, but should roughly know what opportunities and risks come 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. An examination of the topic is important above all in order not to lag behind internationally, such as with the topic of digitization. Now, during the corona pandemic, is a good time for this, as people are used to changes in this phase of upheaval and would see them not 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 evaluation of big data, it is not yet possible to solve rather mild problems without human intelligence. Experts believe that a strong AI with the social skills and flexibility of a human being can emerge in 20 to 40 years.
Only creeping entry of AI into the world of work
What some fear seems like a lure 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.
Sascha Stowasser may give them 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 of Applied Labor Science of the Metal and Electrical Industries: “Regardless of how fast AI will develop, Germany has very high labor costs in international comparison. Accordingly, such a massive change cannot be implemented 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 he has only noticed creeping changes in the world of work, says Stowasser.
More than half of the respondents in the study are at least convinced that artificial intelligence will make fundamental changes and that entire professional fields will dissolve and new ones will emerge. The worst are seen by sellers and taxi and bus drivers, but also by stock exchange traders.
For media psychologist Carolus, the reason for this is clear: “Autonomous driving in particular has long been taken up in science fiction. The media also repeatedly report successful attempts – so many believe that bus and taxi drivers are no longer needed.“
For doctors, nurses and psychologists, on the other hand, respondents see less risk of being displaced by AI. In these professions, the focus is on the person or his psyche.
New occupational 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 that.“
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 occupational fields: Ford Australia, Deakin University and Griffith University listed 100 possible job profiles last year.
In the Kaspersky study, more than 42 percent of respondents considered the job of 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 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 one uses drone technology to influence the weather in favor of the global climate.