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AI experts say robots could spark unemployment

Image: Google self-driving car
Google is testing subcompact self-driving cars. (Photo via Google)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The robot revolution may put half of us humans out of a job by 2045 – and if that happens, what are the politicians going to do about it?

“This issue of automation and employment, which is going to be one of the biggest policy issues for the next 25 years, if not longer, and now we’re in a presidential election year … this issue is just nowhere on the radar screen,” Rice University computer scientist Moshe Vardi said Feb. 13 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in Washington.

Vardi and other experts on artificial intelligence sketched out a scary picture of what the next couple of decades could bring as machines become smarter, more powerful and more prevalent. It’s a picture that’s developing quickly, thanks to the rise of machine vision and machine learning.

Bart Selman, a computer science professor at Cornell University, said he would not have been as concerned about AI’s downside five years ago. Since then, however, engineers have brought about dramatic improvements in the ability of software systems to see, hear and understand their environment.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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