How machine learning will affect future jobs

A dermatologist uses a dermatoscope, a type of handheld microscope, to look at skin. Computer scientists at Stanford have created an artificially intelligent diagnosis algorithm for skin cancer that matched the performance of board-certified dermatologists. (Stanford Photo / Matt Young)

Computer scientists have created artificial-intelligence algorithms that are at least as good as trained humans at recognizing the signs of skin cancer or malaria, but does that mean your future physician will be a bot?

Two experts on AI explain in the journal Science why the rapid rise of machine learning could be good for well-paid professionals like dermatologists and epidemiologists, no big deal for workers on the low end of the wage spectrum, but big trouble for employees in the middle.

That’s because those middle-spectrum jobs are particularly vulnerable to the machine-learning treatment, MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Carnegie Mellon University’s Tom Mitchell say.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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