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SXSW Report : Will Artificial Intelligence take your job?

We are currently visiting the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas to talk and learn about the latest trends within technology and software.


The interactive track has so far had a lot of focus on where technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going at high speed and the somewhat scary ways in which automation and robots could change our society.

The author of "Chaos Monkeys" Antonio García Martínez spoke on how truckers - which during past years has been the most common US profession employing more than 2.5 million people in the US - is now close to being disrupted by a Silicon Valley startup that shortly will launch self driving fleets of trucks across the US - ultimately pushing a large group of working class Americans into unemployment. Antonio then went on to explain that for almost every profession there is a Y Combinator startup working to automate it. 

Self-driving Embark truck on the road.

Self-driving Embark truck on the road.

This loss of middle class jobs will inevitable profoundly impact our society and even though jobs will be disrupted in iterations it seems to occur at an ever increasing pace. There is a clear concern expressed by many at SXSW and in Silicon Valley that this globally co-founded development of AI, automation and robots will bring a lot of challenges both in terms of ethics and security and that it could easily spiral out of control.

Finally Antonio confessed to having bought some land outside "the Valley" where he has built a "safehouse" but denied being an actual "prepper" (Silicon Valley entrepreneurs spending a lot of money on building bunkers and preparing for what they think could evolve into a robot/AI-apocalypse).

Elizabeth Lukas and Jeffery Lancaster from Decoded followed up on this technology-domesday-topic stating that 49% of todays jobs could be automated with our current technology. They also quoted last years SXSW speaker Kevin Kelly on that

"Productivity is for robots. What we are really good at is wasting time.”

suggesting that people on a more positive note will have a lot more time to spend on their hobbies in the future.

Software developers also face the risk being automated out of their jobs according to Decoded.

DARPA and Defcon (the worlds leading hacker conference) arranged an on-stage competition last year between machines that were to detect and patch security flaws before attacking the other contestants utilizing the knowledge of the very same security flaws. Several other examples mentioned how AI can now be utilized to analyze large quantities of code and fix it according to best practice development standards at a level that can be compared to a standard human programmer.

DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC)

DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC)

Even for those developers who get to keep their jobs the leap into quantum and DNA computing will be a tough one.

"Our future quantum computing developers are currently playing Minecraft."

said Lancaster referring to that concepts such as superposition and probability has been introduced into the variants of the game in order to plant a seed for the quantum computing developers of the future.

Later this week we will bring you an update on what SXSW is saying about Machine Learning and designing for NoUI and voice controlled services.