There could be a time in the not too distant future whereby AI has replaced many of our jobs, but rather than mean we are all out of work, such a move would allow us to focus on doing more meaningful jobs that don't need to have an impact on the economy for the world to still operate.
"You always see jobs opening up in previous industrial revolutions, but I think at some point AI is going to be capable of doing pretty much anything," explains Dr Alex Allan, the CTO and founder of AI London startup Kortical to Pocket-lint in an interview for the Pocket-lint podcast.
"The potential advantage of that is that the cost of living could go to virtually nothing for everyone. Imagine if you have an AI doctor in your phone that could be just as good as a GP? It means anyone in the world who has got a smartphone, which is more than 50 per cent of people, would have access to healthcare. That's such an insane holy grail."
Allan admits though that such a future would have its challenges:
"There will be challenges of how we transition from a society where everyone has to have a job, to one where potentially you might not need that many jobs that directly influence the economy. It doesn't mean there might not be jobs, but the jobs that did exist wouldn't have to impact the economy in the same way it does at the moment. We are well away from that tangible impact, but we need to start thinking about those scenarios now to ensure we head in the right direction."
Allan, who co-founded Kortical in 2016 after completing both a degree in cybernetics and artificial intelligence and a doctorate in data science, describes the company as a platform to automate data science, basically using AI to build AI.
It's already proving very successful. High profile applications include working with the NHS to use AI to cut costs and wastage by 50 per cent when dealing with blood and transplant deliveries and helping BT to predict cell tower equipment faults before they happen.
While Allan believes a future where we've all got time to learn how to paint or study marine biology is some time off, AI is still likely to make a huge impact in our daily lives now.
Virtual assistants that actually assist
"The thing that I think it going to be really exciting, especially for consumers, is virtual assistants that really work as virtual assistants," Allan tells Pocket-lint.
The CTO envisions a time where you'll be able to ask Siri or Alexa much more complex sets of questions using AI like "I want to go on holiday to Croatia, can you find me a hotel that has hot tub on the balcony, and is within this price range, and is roughly around this location, and allows pets."
Possible within "5 years or so", Allan believes these virtual assistants will be able to "go out to the web and interact with these APIs or natural language and actually do these tasks."
Why? Because it's what AI is good at doing, performing tasks that humans can do, but much quicker. Allan explains:
"If you think about the number of potential applications where it can do something like that, that's quite a difficult task that would take a human a long time, and it's one of those tasks where an AI could do a better job. If it can understand that task it could search all the options in parallel and that really will be a game changer. It would make planning holidays and events incredibly efficient by comparison."
You can listen to the full interview with Dr Alex Allan in the latest episode (ep.14) of the Pocket-lint podcast out on Friday 9 August.