The increasing capabilities of AI has created concern and even apprehension in the Natural Intelligence community. The concern begins with our limited understanding of evolution; where we assume that all AI will behave like humans and go about destroying mentally inferior species such as the homo sapiens. But then, even if it doesn’t go about annihilating us, it will still take our jobs. So people are writing learned articles about which jobs will still be around when AI is as commonplace as a smart phone.
The doom of driving (e.g. taxi drivers) is predicated to be just around the corner as AI starts driving autonomous cars. Beyond that we imagine smart helpers relieving our every day chores, maybe even doing our shopping and paper work for us.
The common prevailing conception is that low skill jobs would be the most endangered. But in terms of return on investment it seems the greatest impact would actually be in highly skilled jobs. Google already is toying with the idea of creating art with AI but how about engineering. Can we replace engineers with AI ? Or at least augment their capabilities ? and how about inventors ?
Engineering consists of a toolbox of methods to solve a problem and a weight function to determine the worth of one solution compared to another. The challenge is often there is no ideal solution and the optimization consists of trade offs. Moreover, the models are partial, the data collection limited and the decision process fraught with estimations. However, engineers can solve problems because they apply prior knowledge and recognize similarities with past problems. This is exactly where AI excels. If it can play GO, it can probably solve engineering problems.
But can AI invent things ? It probably can. Not only that, since there are already systematic approaches to inventing its surprising that we don’t already have AI that replaces the innovation leads and pathfinders in the R&D. Google should probably be developing AI for inventing and not for doodling. Or maybe its done that already.