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Thread: Progress in Artificial Intelligence

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Progress in Artificial Intelligence

    The Robots Are Coming for Phil in Accounting - The New York Times
    The robots are coming. Not to kill you with lasers, or beat you in chess, or even to ferry you around town in a driverless Uber.

    These robots are here to merge purchase orders into columns J and K of next quarter’s revenue forecast, and transfer customer data from the invoicing software to the Oracle database. They are unassuming software programs with names like “Auxiliobits — DataTable To Json String,” and they are becoming the star employees at many American companies.

    Some of these tools are simple apps, downloaded from online stores and installed by corporate I.T. departments, that do the dull-but-critical tasks that someone named Phil in Accounting used to do: reconciling bank statements, approving expense reports, reviewing tax forms. Others are expensive, custom-built software packages, armed with more sophisticated types of artificial intelligence, that are capable of doing the kinds of cognitive work that once required teams of highly-paid humans.
    White-collar workers have long thought themselves safe from automation, but much of their work has started to fall to RPA, "robotic process automation".
    Before the pandemic, Mr. Vega said, some executives turned down offers to automate their call centers, or shrink their finance departments, because they worried about scaring their remaining workers or provoking a backlash like the one that followed the outsourcing boom of the 1990s, when C.E.O.s became villains for sending jobs to Bangalore and Shenzhen.

    But those concerns matter less now, with millions of people already out of work and many businesses struggling to stay afloat.

    Now, Mr. Vega said, “they don’t really care, they’re just going to do what’s right for their business.”
    Seems like a lot of jobs that are being computerized are corporate-bureaucrat sorts of jobs.

    There are still things that are difficult to computerize and robotize, like dexterity, creative intelligence, and social intelligence.

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    This shift may be related to the popularity of what they call “so-so automation” — technology that is just barely good enough to replace human workers, but not good enough to create new jobs or make companies significantly more productive.
    Like grocery-store self-checkout systems.
    Another key difference is that in the past, automation arrived gradually, factory machine by factory machine. But today’s white-collar automation is so sudden — and often, so deliberately obscured by management — that few workers have time to prepare.

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