How did you feel when you saw the competition, AlphaGo vs. Lee Sedol last year? Were you afraid that AI (Artificial Intelligence) and robots would take your job and dominate you in the near future? I was shocked and intimidated, so started to think about original human nature that robots cannot learn and acquire forever. Some say that the subtle movement such as grasping and gripping things as a human’s superior domain. Those actions, such as holding different sizes and shapes of coffee cups, are so straightforward for us, but very difficult for robot arms and hands. But will we still be better than the robots in 10 years? We all know that it is just a matter of time; robots will get that capability very soon.
Experts are talking about creativity, emotion, and empathy as a parts of original human nature. In other words, it means that jobs that are neither creative, emotional, nor relationship-oriented, may all be replaced by robots someday. This revolutionary phenomenon is not coming, but it has already come. I believe independence, flexibility, and curiosity make human beings different from robots. In order to get a job that you can enjoy, and ultimately make robots and AI as your supporters instead of threatening entities, please keep in mind and practice the following tips and try to put them into practice.
Firstly, be responsible for your own decisions. Robots cannot perform any actions unless they receive an order. However, human beings with free will can think and behave without any direction from others. I know how hard you worked to enter Ewha. Most of you are very good daughters and students. You listen to your parents and teachers, and feel more comfortable when you follow their directions and say “Yes” than when you make a decision for yourself and go down a different path from the others. You can say “No”; it would be totally fine. When you have to make a choice, you can consult others’ opinions; however, don’t let them make a decision for you. You are the person who knows yourself and your desires the best.
Secondly, be flexible and openminded. Not all answers have to be “True” or “False.” Robots process data by simplifying and structuring them into a binary scale; there is only “0” or “1” for robots, no “0.5” for them. For robots’ sensors, the masterpiece by Michelangelo is a mere combination of pixels. They can understand neither “beautiful enough to tear” nor the emotion like “love-hate at the same time.” Only humans can doublethink. Please be acceptable to different beliefs, views and opinions even if they seem contradictory. Make friends with different personalities and backgrounds from yourself and enjoy the differences.
Thirdly, be eager to learn. Be curious like a kitten. Now, machines can learn by themselves thanks to deep learning using neural networks like human brains. However, they are not self-motivated to learn. Take courses that look intellectually challenging, instead of taking ones that you can easily get an A for. As a professor, I rarely remember my students’ final grade, but I clearly remember each student’s attitude in class and how enthusiastic they were. Robots are always evaluated by their speed, accuracy, and performance of their output, but humans can feel happy during the process regardless of results.
So, are you still anxious about a future ruled by robots? Remember you can program, copy, buy, own, sometimes destroy robots, but nobody can do those things to you. You will always be better than them.
Professor Haejung Yun received her Ph.D. degree in information systems from Graduate School of Information, Yonsei University. She is currently working for Department of International Office Administration as an assistant professor.