How to Work in the AI Era: Should Humans Fear AI Evolving at Breakneck Speed?

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“Should we fear AI?”

People often debate this question about “Generative AI,” which is evolving at a breakneck pace every day. Generative AI is a machine learning approach in which AI (Artificial Intelligence) learns from past data about content and things, and then creates entirely new, creative, and realistic artifacts based on that learning.

In the past, new technological advances have updated the way we work and our living environment to make it more convenient. However, there is certainly a renewed and growing concern about the potential impact that currently developing AI will have on industry and society.

On May 1, the New York Times published an interview with Dr. Geoffrey Hinton, the “Godfather of AI” who recently left Google. Dr. Hinton is a pioneer AI researcher, known for having coined many related terms, including “deep learning.”

In the article, Dr. Hinton spoke about his concern that if AI is not developed responsibly, it could have catastrophic consequences for humanity and could even be taken over by super-intelligent computers. He left Google after more than a decade of a career as an engineering fellow at Google, where he became the most respected voice in the field so that he could speak freely about the dangers of AI. Dr. Hinton’s alarm over the unstoppable and rapid progress of “Generative AI” sent shivers through readers. Dr. Hinton said in the interview with the New York Times, “I console myself with the normal excuse: If I hadn’t done it, somebody else would have.”

In recent years, along with the focus on the convenience of AI tools such as Chat GPT, the spread of factually incorrect information produced by these tools and the increase in AI-abusing crimes have begun to be cited as major concerns.

In an effort to crack down on the use of artificial intelligence tools to spread discrimination and harmful information, the U.S. Biden administration formally issued a public request for comment on what it called accountability measures, including whether potentially risky new AI models should go through a certification process before they are released.

Also recently, fashion brand Levi’s® announced plans to partner with digital fashion studio to build and test AI-generated virtual models. However, this move by Levi’s® has generated a major backlash within the fashion industry, with concerns spreading to the fashion industry workforce that the introduction of AI-generated virtual models would “eliminate the work of the original fashion models.”

AI-generated virtual models by Levi’s® and digital fashion studio Courtesy of Levi’s®.

By employing AI-generated virtual models, Levi’s® reportedly aims to increase diversity by showing online shoppers different types of people wearing Levi’s® clothing. However, some critics of this statement accused the company of “trying to cut costs in creation and dealing inexpensively with representation,” and of “potentially putting professional models out of work in the process.”

So, while there is concern and opposition that the introduction of AI will take away human labor, how should the fashion industry deal with this change?

In every historical period of the industrial revolution, there has always been a conflict between traditional human labor and automation by the machine: as far back as the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth is said to have refused to grant a patent for the first-ever knitting machine developed by inventor William Lee, arguing that it would put hand knitters out of work. Also, in the early 19th century, workers revolted against industrialists who introduced machines that produced stockings faster and cheaper.

However, as these past events have shown, it is impossible to stop the evolution of new technologies, even if there is a backlash from the people. At the same time, technological advances will naturally create jobs that will disappear. On the other hand, new jobs will be created that never existed before.

So far, when fashion in the virtual world attracted attention, a profession was created to direct the fashion of avatars in the metaverse, and this season the first AI Fashion Week was held in New York City, where collections created by AI fashion designers were presented, and more people are already active in new AI-related professions.

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