Nowadays we are used to the idea that robots can be a valid support for people in their work, but many people lack awareness in the potential of robots taking over “white-collar jobs”. In fact, robots can now write articles in magazines, manage a hotel, and even reach the same decision that a judge would take in a court. Furthermore, they can diagnose the same diseases that a doctor would. So it is time to ask ourselves: is this morally acceptable?
In favour of robotics in white-collar jobs
Robots performances would be more accurate, more accessible and, most importantly, cost effective for companies, institutions, and governments. As an example to support this statement, we can consider the medical profession: having robots to diagnose a disease would be beneficial both for patients and hospitals. In fact, through artificial intelligence it is possible to identify a disease avoiding human mistakes, considering a wider range of options in less time compared to human doctors. Also, automation would be a profitable investment for public institutions such as hospitals and healthcare centres, since budgets spent on labors will decrease.
Yet, the lack of humanity is a matter that cannot be ignored, as people would not totally trust robots for delicate matters dealing with health or with legal actions: would anyone accept to go to jail because of the calculations made by a computer? In response to this question, the authors recall the unquestionable fact that computers are unable to make mistakes, though it is not possible to say the same about humans. Once society acknowledges the effectiveness and advantages that robots posses in these sectors, they will adapt to the concept of relying on artificial intelligence.
It can be argued that automation would not only make lots of skilled professionals lose their jobs, but also destroy future work opportunities. In first place, we have to say it is impossible to bring concrete evidences to support this thesis, since we are unable, at this point of automation progress, to say how many work opportunities would be created. In addition, this kind of argumentation is very similar to what people said during the advent of Industrial Revolution, when workers lost their jobs because of machines ability to perform manual labor, whilst now we are talking about computers able to implement cognitive labor. Yet, how many people nowadays would state that Industrial Revolution has not been beneficial for humanity?
Last but not least, we have to consider the benefits that needy people would get from the automation of white-collar jobs. For example, there are many areas of the world that suffer from lack of doctors, because governments are unable to pay for their services; of course, bringing there robots to supply this need would not be easy, but still it would be easier for a charity institution to pay once for a machine that can supply this need rather than look for human professionals willing to work for free. The same reasoning can be applied to indigent people who cannot afford legal support.
After discussing the aspects mentioned above, one can say that automation would be beneficial for individuals, societies, and economies. Automation is supported by the moral principal that technological progress must be prosecuted for science’s sake.
Against Robotics in White-Collar Jobs
Professionals in fields of high specialization will be forced to unemployment with no justice towards their case. With respect to clients who are faced with a court trial, the emotional understanding and reassurance sensation offered by lawyers with a “free of charge” service will not be available since robots are far away from gaining accreditation to support emotional feelings, regardless of their “exquisite talent” of getting the job complete. It can be argued that emotion intelligence is developing, however, these emotions will need to be programed by a robot manufacturer, which in return questions how robot companies will have the authority to tailor society’s emotions based on their ethics and values. In addition, the skills of our youth generation are prone to be unvalued by society in terms of their inability to contribute to a workforce that is slowly being taken over by robots. Governments are also exposed to challenges in evaluating a sustainable economy without taxpayers from high earning jobs and dealing with increased unemployment, unless they are able to regulate a percentile of robots permissible in each industry sector.
Worldwide economy depending on artificial intelligence devices may create significant economic inequality and a difficult transition because of disruption of labor markets. Companies and governments will need to make it easy for workers to acquire new skills and switch jobs as needed. Hence, more diversified job opportunities need to be implemented in order to be prepared for a possible socio-economic transformation.
Technological developments and changes such as computer software, humanoids, robots, are killing a lot more jobs than they are creating, which affects the distribution of work. Although technology creates new jobs, there is no guarantee that they would match the number of jobs lost. Technology has become very good indeed, but making it essential key on a daily basis will make humans lazy. Besides, there is always something new to learn for people, a new skill, new role, that need to be improved every day. For instance, lawyers involve research in their cases among with several other tasks on a given day, where it seems odd that a single robot could be able to perform all those tasks. Beyond the tasks, robots cannot express values and ethical codes that certainly human layers can; as well as the emotional support and comfortability. Additionally, there is a risk of being outperformed in intellect and skills by the smart robotic system.
Group 32: Cinzia Minafò, Shuang Shu, Youssef Mourad, Jorge Llamas Orozco