Maybe I’m pushing this subject a bit hard, but I really believe we are on the cusp of a wide range of human activities being taken over by smart algorithms, also known as Machine Learning. As well as the examples I’ve already mentioned, I found an article on how an “AI” saved a woman’s life, and how it’s being used to create legal documents for homeless (or about to be homeless) in the UK.
One of my regular news sources surfaced an article about how IBM’s Watson (discussed as part of my Smart Algorithms post) where AI Saves Woman’s Life By Identifying Her Disease When Other Methods (humans) Failed. In just 10 minutes the AI (machine learning variety) compared the woman’s genetic information with 20 million clinical oncology studies. 20 million in 10 minutes! A human doctor couldn’t do that much in a lifetime let alone the short periods doctors get with patients in modern ‘medicine.’
This is where computer algorithms have an edge over humans. The machine learning algorithm needs training, which is currently human guided, but once trained is so much faster at the tasks trained for than any human ever could be.
I recently wrote how a law firm was using IBM Watson to replace research paralegals in their bankruptcy law department. Micheal Horton pointed me to another legal ‘bot’ that helps advise newly evicted people in the UK by crafting legal documents based on data provided by the ‘customer’. The 19 year old creator was building on work he’d already done helping people contest parking tickets, also referred to in the article on replacing research paralegals.
These are somewhat procedural legal documents but, until now, they have required the services of a paralegal, or a document preparation organization like We the People, who are not free but less expensive than an attorney. Algorithms are not (yet) arguing criminal cases before juries. Not yet.
Creative and intuitive occupations will be safer from takeover than procedural, which will all fall to AI faster than we expect. Be careful, however, that you really are in a creative occupation: an editor yes, an assistant editor (mostly an organizational job) maybe not so much.