The debate whether computers can be truly creative started two years ago after a special game of Go, an abstract strategy board game. The world champion, Lee Sedol, had just lost to AlphaGo, a computer program developed by the Google company DeepMind. What surprised the engineers and Go experts was that AlphaGo had secured the victory with a remarkable move that no human had ever done.
The question is how artificial intelligence will be used in the workplace and if it will complement or substitute human skills.
Michael Björn, co-author of the report and Head of Research at the Ericsson Consumer and Industry Lab, says: “The introduction of artificial intelligence systems will affect most professions in the future. In most cases the job roles will change rather than disappear. This means that people will need training to take on new tasks, and lifelong learning schemes will rise in importance.”
Just like the electrification and the digitalization have made certain tasks easier and processes more efficient, the application of machine learning will free up time and resources. When it comes to simpler tasks, the new systems can probably replace the need for human interaction altogether. For example, the Swedish municipality of Trelleborg has assigned a robot for administrative tasks, such as handling applications for financial assistance and security alarms.
In industries with more complex duties, intelligent machines will work side by side with people. IBM Watson, one of the most well-known artificial intelligence systems, has been implemented for financial services, cyber security, and a range of other applications. The system analyzes large amounts of data and makes recommendations, helping staff to focus on the most important aspects of their work.
But what about letting computers carry out assignments that require creativity?
Rebecka Cedering Ångström, co-author of the report and Researcher at the Ericsson Consumer and Industry Lab, says: “As machines become increasingly flexible and evolve over time, the complexity of the assignments they can take on also rises. Artificial intelligence will be introduced in functions that were previously assumed to require human skills, like creative jobs.”
In fact, artificial intelligence is already being used for creative work. The NSynth Super developed by Google creates new sounds for composers and musical artists, and IBM’s Chef Watson combines ingredients based on food chemistry and different cooking techniques for new recipes and flavors.
Another example is Myntra, an Indian fashion e-commerce company that has used artificial intelligence for a long time. One system identifies trending colors, patterns, and cuts by scanning social media, and suggests new designs. Another system evaluates the suggestions and determines which of the designs that are most likely to be popular and should be produced. The approach has been very successful and Myntra is using the technology for two of its brands.
Learn more about the development artificial intelligence systems and how they will affect the job market by downloading the full report from the Ericsson Consumer and Industry Lab website.