Robots Will Not Replace Humans Anytime Soon

As technological innovations lead to leaps in our abilities, for some it also causes fear. Rest assured, robots will not take your job anytime soon.

Over the years, Hollywood has portrayed futuristic robots that take over for humans. Some fear that this will, in fact, happen. Advances and innovations in technology, especially in the last few years, have increased exponentially, exacerbating the fear that humans are our own undoing. In truth, while we have made leaps in artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation, we are nowhere near creating the type of technology that people fear will take over our planet one day.

Last summer, a tweet was shared that was not only witty, but also incredibly true. 

“To replace programmers with robots, clients will have to accurately describe what they want. We’re safe.”

There is so much truth to this, and it’s not so much that clients cannot describe what they want, it’s that people can be fickle. We change our minds with the wind, we think we want one thing until we see it and decide we want something else, and we flit around like gnats looking for that perfect speck of sugar. So even when programmers do as asked, clients often change their minds to add features or change layouts or a variety of other components. This is a prime example of why automation and artificial intelligence will not take the place of humans, at least not anytime soon.

There are a few reasons to consider when it comes to robots or automation taking over for humans. First and foremost is our inability to secure anything code-based from being infected by bad actors. We’ll delve into that momentarily. Second, we don’t have the appropriate data (yet) or technological ability for AI to have this kind of an impact. It will take years upon years upon years upon years for AI to learn how to make decisions without “if/then” parameters alone, never mind being able to interact like a human. Third, machines will never, ever be able to make knowledge-based decisions in the same way as humans. We pay good amounts of money and spend lifetimes continuing the perfection of our craft, building off of what those before left behind. Machines can only do what they are programmed to do.

Machines can only do what they are programmed to do. Programmed by humans. Robots are a long way from being able to write code and learn programming languages. AI doesn’t even have speaking languages down all the way yet, showing bias in gender and race, which is the result of using publicly available training data from the web. Until companies use internal training data that doesn’t share societal bias, AI will be imperfect.

On top of that, as mentioned above, we have an apparent inability to secure our technology from threat actors. Recently we discussed how large language models leak data learned through public training data, there have been many attacks via malware, ransomware, credential stuffing, open-sourced code threaded with malicious packages and more. Many business leaders still believe that security isn’t as necessary as their teams insist it is, although some of that is changing this year. But until we can ensure the security of our technology, AI isn’t going to be what we want it to be.

Rest assured, while automation has taken tedious, repeatable or patterned tasks away from humans, those that require knowledge and thought cannot be automated. If it cannot be automated with code, it’s not going to take your job, let alone take over the planet.

About the Author

Pieter VanIperen, Managing Partner of PWV Consultants, leads a boutique group of industry leaders and influencers from the digital tech, security and design industries that acts as trusted technical partners for many Fortune 500 companies, high-visibility startups, universities, defense agencies, and NGOs. He is a 20-year software engineering veteran, who founded or co-founder several companies. He acts as a trusted advisor and mentor to numerous early stage startups, and has held the titles of software and software security executive, consultant and professor. His expert consulting and advisory work spans several industries in finance, media, medical tech, and defense contracting. Has also authored the highly influential precursor HAZL (jADE) programming language.

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