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#VivaTech: Artificial Intelligence won’t take away jobs. Here’s why.


Life is no longer as we use to know it a decade ago. We are in a tech dispensation and the world is changing so fast, one could lose pace with the per-minute evolution on the global stage. Technology is quickly revolutionalising how we live and behave in so many ways. While we embrace technology and the ease it guarantees, there are global concerns about whether technology -particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI)- would take away people’s means of livelihood. 

(AI) is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings (humans). The term is frequently applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalise, or learn from experience. 

Jacques Attali & Yann LeCun. Photo credit: VivaTech
Jacques Attali & Yann LeCun. Photo credit: VivaTech

And that’s the problem! AI is built to function like humans but in a more advanced and sophisticated way. As tech giants like OpenAI, Google, and Microsoft race to roll out AI-related products amid a global layoff in the tech industry, people’s fear of losing jobs to AI is justified. Especially people whose jobs are not mechanical. AI is disrupting the future of work and stirring conversations globally, particularly at the ongoing VIVA Technology conference in Paris, France.

“If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it.” – Lyndon B. Johnson, Former President of the United States of America.

Dispelling the myth that AI will take away accounting jobs in a panel session dubbed Future-proofing SMEs: strategies for success, Arthur Waller, CEO of Pennylane, affirmed that AI couldn’t take away accounting jobs. PennyLane is an open-source software framework for quantum machine learning, quantum chemistry, and quantum computing, with the ability to run on all hardware.

“In terms of outputting accounting, AI won’t have a huge impact. The reason is that accounting data is very structured data and not natural language. Whereas, the revolution we are seeing in AI is around natural language,” said Waller. He noted however that AI would rather impact accountants’ advisory role. This means that AI is limited to the point at which it was created. So, no matter how intelligent AI is, it still cannot surpass human intelligence.

Commenting about AI in another panel session, Yann LeCun, VP & Chief AI Scientist at Meta noted that most of human knowledge has nothing to do with language. “Part of human experience is not captured by AI systems. They don’t have physical intuitions. It stops them from being able to plan actions in the world. Making it bigger is not going to get them to reach human intelligence.” 

While tech companies work to create AI solutions, there is a need to put the right regulatory framework that would guarantee its safe use. “AI is a future that must not be prevented, it must be regulated by counter-powers. If we look at technology without ethics, we are dead. Who is going to put the borders? Counter powers need to exist, to not let the engineers do alone what they want,” said Jacques Attali, Futurologist & President at Attali Associates.

It is important to note that countries are also investing in the development of AI infrastructure. During his conversation at the conference, President Emmanuel Macron announced that France would invest €500 million for AI to go “much faster and stronger”.

About Viva Technology

Viva Technology (VivaTech) is an annual technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups, held in Paris, France. VivaTech was founded in 2016 by Publicis Groupe and Groupe Les Echos. From Africa to Asia, startups, VCs, and corporate partners converge at VivaTech to enable local heroes become global champions.

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