‘AI to take jobs that humans shouldn’t be doing’

We need to rethink the notion of jobs in the new context of artificial intelligence (AI) – this will allow us to do other things that really matter. This was one of Stafford Masie’s key talking points at the Digital Clash of Civilisations on the Fourth Industrial Revolution at a University of Johannesburg‘s (UJ) public dialogue on Wednesday night, 01 August 2018.

Masie was speaking to UJ staff, students and members of the public on what artificial intelligence and the new technology in Industry 4.0 mean for people, organisations and entrepreneurs. “People have the fear that AI and the rise of Industry 4.0 will take away their jobs, that’s not the case. AI will take away jobs that humans should not be doing in the first place. Humans should be concerned about creating things that really matter, not jobs that can be done by machines. We should be building ecosystems of human sustainability – adopting multiple solutions to building products that enable us to reach unimaginable success for humanity,” said Masie.

Speaking about AI risks, Masie said that technology inventors should develop a strong sense of ethics and moral code when creating products to advance humanity. “AI has already gone rogue, so when you build stuff, have a strong moral and ethical code. Have empathy. Think about the fitness function of your business. The internet has no secrecy; we are already giving out a lot of information on social media… what we eat, places we go to, how we feel, what we love and hate, etc. AI is happening now and it has given us access to everything,” Masie explained.

He urged the future entrepreneurs to lead businesses that promote people as part of their driving force. “We need to put incentives on human value; leaders who give their employees recognition, make them feel they are part of the organisation, and not forgotten, flourish. We also need to start thinking about the minimum wage globally – we are already dealing with a rogue AI that allows entrepreneurs to exploit people at a very large scale,” he said.

With everything possible in AI, Masie said, we need to do things that matter, creating businesses that have no user interfaces because people want to interact with your business for what it offers. He mentioned companies such as Amazon.com Inc, Apple Inc, Alfabet Inc and Facebook as some of the leading global businesses that have used AI with a massive impact on human civilisations. Masie also stated that AI enables a combination of great, different solutions to creating products that have multifaceted benefits.

With the new wave of crypto-currencies as a form of AI, Masie explained, their role will also impact on how people transact in a more honest manner, without the need for third party interventions like banks and insurance companies.

He said that South African and African entrepreneurs had a better chance at creating products that have a potential positive impact in the world because they are solutions driven creators.

Some of the comments made and questions raised from the audience included concerns on the growing gap between the less educated masses who do not have access to technologies, compared to the connected and educated minorities in the world.

According to Professor Johan Meyer, Head of the School of Electrical Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE), UJ, Industry 4.0 “is shaking our understanding of the world and the future of work for everyone. UJ is well positioned as a leading 4.0 higher education institution on the African continent. By engaging with thought leaders to unpack this challenging topic, we invited Stafford Masie to share his insights on where this revolution might take us in his talk ‘The Digital Clash of Civilizations’. There are many ideas about what the 4th Industrial revolution is, however, not many on where it is leading us to.”

The dialogue, organised by the School of Electrical Engineering, was held to shed light on the new dispensation of combinatorial innovation.

Stafford Masie Main
UJ public dialogue on Industry 4.0: Stafford Masie says people should not be scared of artificial intelligence, it is here to amplify human creativity.


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