Alibaba boss Jack Ma says AI and robots 'will kill our jobs'

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Alibaba boss Jack Ma says AI and robots 'will kill our jobs'

Chief executive of Chinese online sales giant Alibaba Jack Ma has declared that "artificial intelligence and robots will kill many jobs".

Voicing his bold opinions during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Ma said artificial intelligence (AI) was a threat to human beings and machines, and would replace humans in jobs of the future.

"The AI, big data is a threat to human beings. The AI and robots are going to kill a lot of jobs, because in the future, these will be done by machines," Ma said during the discussion.

"I think AI should support human beings. Technology should always do something that enables people, not disable people," he added.

When it comes to the responsibilities of the Silicon Valley tech behemoths, Ma said that Google, Facebook, Amazon and Alibaba are the luckiest companies of this century.

"But we have the responsibility to have a good heart, and do something good. Make sure that everything you do is for the future," Ma told the gathering.

It's long been argued that AI will soon take the jobs of humans, with technology figureheads such as Tesla founder Elon Musk and astronomer Stephen Hawking warning the industry and wider-world on the perceived evil dangers that the development of AI could bring.

However, anyone with an interest in this emerging technology – and it is still very much emerging – seems to fall strictly into one of two categories: wildly pessimistic ("the robots will kill us all!") or wildly optimistic ("we'll live in a post-capitalist, robot-fuelled utopia!").

But there could still be some concerns. University of Oxford researchers estimate 35 percent of UK jobs are at risk of automation over the next two decades, while the Bank of England puts the figure at 15 million at-risk jobs over the same period. Middle income jobs will be most at risk.

Mass unemployment at all levels of society beckons in this vision of our AI future, and while universal basic income has been proposed as a solution, fewer people in work means fewer tax receipts. Fewer tax receipts means less income for the state, which means there's no money for out of work benefits, universal basic income or, in fact, any other benefits.

This article originally appeared at itpro.co.uk

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