Artificial Intelligence should be a solution, not a replacement


Gabrielle Wheeler '23

AI has the potential to benefit the entire population when it does more than eliminate jobs.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), as a method of making life easier, could benefit the entire population.  It could improve a patient’s life by advancing the diagnosis process and by recommending treatments, personalizing an education plan to an individual child, or tracking illegal activity.  The world needs programs that model climate change and support the diagnosis of diseases.  AI has the potential to solve a variety of issues, yet the technology is often a wasted resource when it simply replaces humans rather than advances solutions.  Companies in the AI sector must take responsibility for the effects of their technology and use it to aid humanitarian issues. 

OpenAI developed ChatGPT and released the chatbot in November 2022.  ChatGPT can write essays, solve math and science problems, and create computer code.  It is the only free chatbot with its capabilities currently available on the market, and it garners both criticism and support.  While ChatGPT does have its merits as a tutor among other positive uses, what social issues does it ameliorate?  Developers fail to capitalize on the potential benefits of AI by producing technology that mimics human abilities and increases profits through cutting costs, but does nothing to improve lives. 

Amazon Go stores allow customers to select their purchases before leaving the store without checking out.  Many stores across the United States have self-checkout stations in addition to or in place of cashiers.  These AI “advancements” cut labor costs and emphasize profit over responsibility, leading blue-collar workers to lose their jobs, according to  The US Bureau of Labor Statistics declared cashiers as the third-largest occupation as of May 2021, according to  A 2020 report on the demographic of workers in frontline industries from the Center for Economic and Policy Research shared that of grocery, convenience, and drug store cashiers, 44.6 percent were non-white, according to  Minorities also have an increased poverty rate in comparison to white Americans year after year.  AI should not remove humans in stores, but, instead, make their jobs easier.  

Amazon Go stores are cashierless convenient stores that eliminate the checkout line altogether.  Courtesy of

AI can improve the quality of life and work environment, yet it is largely a means of lowering operating costs.  The reliance on AI to do jobs in the exact same manner as humans increases the wealth gap.  While the owners and developers of these technologies will be wealthy, the vast majority will suffer and many will even be out of jobs, according to  In the past, advancements have improved the quality of jobs.  For example, the invention of the conveyor belt increased production speeds and allowed workers to better allocate their time.  The difference between such past advancements and that of today is that humans were still a part of the production process.  Many present-day uses for AI do not do this. 

Technology that solely replaces workers and does not improve upon their abilities reflects nothing more than a decision that prioritizes finances over human welfare.  Researchers and people who develop this technology need to consider how it will affect labor markets as AI should expand opportunities, not remove the ability for financial mobility.  If faced with the choice of creating something that can work with the people for the people or a program that can work in place of humans, why not choose the option that benefits a whole population?  Instead of choosing to develop technology that only serves a small percentage of the population, developers should create AI with the purpose of assisting humanity.

AI technology ranges from self-driving cars and self-checkout machines to ChatGPT and facial-recognition technology that helps law enforcement identify suspects in a criminal investigation.  Technology that aims to make the work of law enforcement agencies easier can lead to wrongful incarceration when the AI wrongfully identifies individuals due to its racial biases.  Facial-recognition technology has been accused of failing to distinguish different skin types and shades, according to  If AI is to work in place of a human to identify individuals from surveillance technology, then the AI needs to be free of human bias.  The intention of using AI is sometimes to decrease or completely eliminate biases, yet AI can lead us back into the past when its training data and production team excludes minorities.

AI surveillance technology can incorrectly identify people for criminal investigations.  Gabrielle Wheeler ’23

If AI prevails at replacing jobs, companies must support the workers that are left behind.  These technology companies are responsible for supporting the retraining of the public for jobs that work alongside AI.  The population cannot be left unemployed and unable to work in a new environment.

AI has the potential to further exacerbate cycles of poverty and inequality.  Yet AI also has the potential to combat humanitarian crises.  AI should be a solution, not a means of reducing production costs.  This technology operates under the guise of advancement when AI technology that only replicates a human’s abilities takes away opportunities for employment, such as cashier jobs that are accessible to the greater US population.  AI that supports workers in completing their jobs and improves efficiency at a worksite can prove just as useful as a program that prevents or combats humanitarian issues.  AI companies need to make technology with the intention of supporting human workers, not of removing them from the workforce.  

Featured Image by Gabrielle Wheeler ’23