The A.I. Race

Could a robot do your job?

The A.I. Race Experts say we are on the brink of a technological transformation; driverless cars, robot retail workers and automated legal and medical professionals could soon be a core part of our society. This timely documentary challenges the beliefs and fears of ordinary people, asking what AI would mean for their jobs, safety and humanity itself. Will experts persuade them that AI is a change for the better, or will the implications of it remain too great to overcome?

“For paralegals, I think it's particularly scary because we're already in such a competitive market.” This was law student Christine Maibom’s response to Ailira, an artificial intelligence legal assistant. Christine had been invited to compete against Ailira in a race to see who could find the answer to a question of tax law the fastest: Ailira took thirty seconds; Christine an hour. As a law student, Christine knows that she is entering a competitive job market. But until now, she had always assumed that her fellow students were her competition. Now see faces competition from machines too.

AI is set to transform every aspect of our society. Nowhere is this truer than in the workplace: from journalism to medicine, law to hospitality, AI will fundamentally alter the way people work. For Adrian Cartland, the inventor of Ailira, AI improves our performance: “AI is like Tony Stark's Ironman suit. It takes someone and makes them into Superman, makes them fantastic!”

Not everyone shares Adrian’s enthusiasm. For Frank Black, a trucker, driverless cars can never replace human drivers: “I think it's crazy stuff…There will always need to be experienced people on the road. Not machines.” Frank’s experience on the road, he argues, compensates for the dangers of human error. Indeed, it is his humanity that make him good at his job; he can assess and react to situations in a way that a machine, learning from pre-defined algorithms, couldn’t: “Stupidity always finds new forms”, Frank says, “quite often you see things you’ve never seen before.”

Whether you’re a lorry driver, a surgeon or a lawyer, AI will drastically change the way that you work and live. But how ready are we for these changes? According to Toby Walsh, a Professor of Artificial Intelligence, we will decide whether new technologies benefit or harm us: “They can eliminate many diseases, they can help eliminate poverty… Equally, the technology can be used for lots of bad. It can be used to increase inequality, it can be used to transform warfare, it could be used to make our lives much worse. We get to make those choices.”
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