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Divya Shah 2017 Scholarship Entry: Program to Survive

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As computers become more powerful, jobs will be replaced with artificial intelligence, leaving no place in the future for humans in the workforce. In the oncoming technological revolution, the staggering change to human mind labor will prove the skills of a programmer to be vital.

The future has always plagued even the brightest of minds with uncertainty. In retrospect, humans as we are, are quite formidable in the battle against all of our unpredictable paths, because we are aware of the potential outcomes of our futures. In the the face of all the infinite universes which comprise our futures, all we are equipped with are only trends and statistics. 


There are those who have predicted a surprisingly similar version of our current reality from years and years ago, such as Ray Kurzweil. Kurzweil, boasting an accuracy of 86%, predicted the dissolution of the Soviet Union almost twenty years before it occurred. He predicts that machines will pass the Turing test by 2029. In the test, a human and a machine engage in conversation on a text-only channel, as in a screen, and if the human cannot derive that the responder is a human or machine, the machine is said to have passed the test. In essence, twelve years from this year, computers will likely be intellectually indistinguishable from humans.


The result of this transformation will be staggering to the world, in many aspects. It will spark an economic revolution, for one. Humans have built machines, which are essentially mechanical muscles, replacing human labor and freeing the people to specialize. Just as we have made mechanical muscles, we have made mechanical minds -- in other words -- computers. And just as mechanical muscles have made human labor less in demand, mechanical minds make the human brain labor less in demand. 


For instance, take Baxter, an Artificial Intelligence robot. Baxter is not only a cost-effective robot, he can observe what you do, learn from the observations, and repeat all tasks within the reach of his arms. Baxter is like the computer of 1980, he is only the beginning of a movement. A more common example is located in every grocery store. What was once thirty people in a checkout center is now one robot, proven to be more speedy, more effective, and less costly. As AI becomes more capable of decision making, they will outcompete human jobs in a way no pure mechanical muscle ever could. This is why the jobs of programmers and the jobs of software engineers is crucial to the upcoming world stage.


Many jobs will be replaced with artificial intelligence as this machinery gets better, cheaper and faster at a rate biology cannot match. If we are not ready and prepared for the change that is to come, this is going to become a large obstacle. And we are not ready. In order to not be stranded in the wake of a technological metamorphosis, it is vital to learn the art of programming. The skill to code will become highly sought after in the coming years, as the people who can code are the ones who program computers themselves. 


Intel and other technology giants are already making leaps and bounds within the field of quantum computing. The potential computer power from these innovations has the ability to rule even programming out, as computers, in a distant future, will be capable of programming themselves.


It is normal to revert to cynicism when confronting highly impactful future predictions, however, these computers are not science fiction and cannot be ruled out. These computers are already here, thriving and evolving, and they will continue to do so. 


However humans must keep up, and the one way to do this is to learn to program. There is already existing software to make this a reality, such as Udemy, an online educational site which has free videos on how to learn python, a coding language. Even if our college majors are not computer science or computer engineering or their academic focus, knowing to code in this technological era should be a skill. The knowledge of the language of computers will prove vital and influential in the near future.


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