Tag Archives: Digital Technology

Artificial Narrow Intelligence and its Impact on Jobs

Posted by: Jeff Landine and John Stewart on May 24, 2019 12:43 pm

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is typically divided into Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) and Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). ANI deals with machines or robots that can perform a task or function such as welding on a manufacturing assembly line. These robots/machines are designed to perform one task and are not able to adapt to other tasks unless they are programmed specifically. Conversely, AGI deals with computers that are able to perform different levels of human intelligence, such as perceiving, reasoning, problem solving, and interacting in the context with some creativity. Additionally, AGI computers can make decisions to move information between databases.  Presently, much of thinking behind AGI involves future projections based on theory and some recent innovations in deep learning, one of the main Canadian focuses in AI research. In this blog, we want to focus on ANI and its implications for jobs going forward.

The influence of ANI has already been felt in the workplace. For example, during the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s, the manufacturing industry replaced many line workers with robots. Today, there are computer programs with the abilities to do word processing, perform translations, and numerous smart phone Apps that execute many functions via the internet. These innovations are already impacting the way information is accessed and business is transacted.  Predictions are that narrow intelligence will eliminate jobs that require repetitive manual labour, and jobs characterized by standardized tasks. For example, some have forecasted that as many as 42% of all jobs in Canada are in danger of being automated. The degree to which these jobs can be automated will influence their availability in the workplace.

However, due to innovations, new jobs have been and will be created. For example, there are 845 jobs listed under the AI title on LinkedIn Canada’s website, including engineers, technologists and technicians with specific specialities in AI. Due to the structural unemployment created, workers will need to either quickly reskill in AI competencies or transition to other jobs in the workplace. Workers who seek AI jobs will need to acquire new hard skills: problem-solving and analytical thinking skills; skills that enable them to build, maintain and repair software programs and machines; and, the ability to look for technological innovations that enable businesses to remain competitive. Additionally, they need soft skills, such as competent languages skills to explain technical information, and empathy to understand the stress others experience due to work transitions.

It seems quite certain that the number of jobs characterized by repetitive tasks and requiring low cognitive skills will continue to decrease.  This decrease has several implications. Career counsellors will need to understand the scope of AI educational programs, their availability and entrance requirements. Further, counsellors will need labor market information to benefit their clients. For example, individuals, aspiring to jobs in AI and those already in the workforce will need to have had formative education in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) or acquire it to complete technician and technology programs in computer design, operations, and maintenance. Those currently in school will need to master STEM courses if they intend to choose educational paths leading to careers in AI. AI specialists in the workforce will need to upgrade continually to keep up with innovations in their field. And, employers will need to develop policies that enable workers to take educational leaves regularly to master changes issuing from technological innovations.

Jeff Landine and John Stewart
Faculty of Education, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B.

Suggested Readings
Retrieved on March 20, at: www.cifar.ca.
Retrieved on March 20, at: www.cifar.ca/ai/”pan-canadian-artificial-intelligence-strategy.”
Retrieved March 20, at: www.+RG-“CPA-Introduction-to-AI-What-You-Need-to-Know”-February-2019.pd.
Retrieved March 20, at: sencanada.ca/content/sen/committee/421/SOCI/reports/”RoboticsAI3D”Final_Web_e.pdf.
Retrieved on March 20, at: www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/09/”4-ways-ai-artificial-intelligence-impact-financial-job-market.”

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

The Medium Is The Message

Posted by: Sherry Law on January 6, 2016 3:02 pm

Marshall_McLuhanYou may be familiar with the title of this blog post as it comes from the works of Marshall McLuhan, a prominent Canadian philosopher. He specialized in the area of communications theory at the University of Toronto and spoke at length about media and its effect on society, locally and globally. His claim that the medium is the message describes how the medium by which information is transmitted ultimately reorganizes human behaviour. The idea emerged during the transition of mass media transmission from radio to television, but applies to all other mediums such as printed words, telephones, texting, movies, and the internet. Indeed, there are more mediums from which to transmit information and communications than McLuhan could have imagined as he died in 1980. His ideas hold more weight today than ever.

To expand on the concept, the advent of the printing press allowed for literacy to emerge as a normative experience. Literacy changed the way the individual received information about the world. Before the printing press, individuals derived their understanding of events and life experiences through others by oral tradition, or sermon. The printing press provided a choice to disband from the community into individual contemplation. As literacy became standardized, individuals were able to question the information received through oral tradition and extend their relationship with history and the imagined future. Instead of relying on institution and the wealthy to be the sole inspiration of our human experience, thoughts, creativity, historical perspective, and in essence the human narrative was becoming democratized. Individuals were able to construct their own plays, journals, poetry, fictions, research, and with each published work, develop new industry and physical structures as testaments of the effects of the new medium: the printed word. In the same way, the internet has shifted humans in how we communicate with one another. A global culture has begun to emerge through the medium of the internet, and a collective consciousness extends our relationship to “the other”. Our social lives are now intimately connected to screened devices, giving humans the choice to connect to others through electronics rather than having to share physical space, therefore retribalizing by democratizing the social experience in a global arena.

In my blogging history, I have written about the phenomenon of presence, a state generated through virtual reality (VR) whereby the audience’s sensory experience has been transported to a virtual space. This new medium, VR, in conjunction with the internet, will and has already begun changing how humans organize. Social media has become a vessel of unprecedented influence in many aspects of life, from changing our eating habits, our day to day routines, to providing a global stage for outrage and political mobilization. Once these elements merge with a more globalized physiological experience through the medium of VR, the change in our social fabric will be dramatic.

As psychotherapists, it is critical to consider our clients and ourselves within the context of the larger scheme. After all, what is empathy without the recognition of the individual within their lived experience?

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Technology: the easy scapegoat

Posted by: Sherry Law on October 21, 2015 5:00 am


Recently, technology and its effect on the human attention span has become a growing topic of discussion. When people develop issues which may include a technology element, there are often quick judgements and a cursory analysis typically highlight technology as the main culprit. All the while technology has become an increasingly irremovable part of our environment. Even among friends, family, and the public at large, it is a common attitude that technology can lead to dependency and estrangement, oftentimes applied towards the youth. However, this could simply be a change in behaviour due to a change in environment.

As a mental health service worker, and also a technology enthusiast, my perspective on the matter is different. Hearing the attitudes of change as negative by default sparked interest in me to consider looking at change in a different way. Is the change present? According to some research  humans have shown indication that there is a drop in focus time during certain activities. But should we be concerned by this? Some are pre-emptively saying “yes”. Continue reading

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA


Posted by: Sherry Law on August 25, 2015 5:00 am


In one of my previous posts I mentioned a phenomenon called presence, which is a potent experience capable of convincing a person that they occupy a place which they do not exist physically. This experience is difficult to describe but is the quintessential point I, and other researchers in the field of virtual reality, believe the technological and the therapeutic intersect. This post will attempt to explain how presence is achieved and how it can be therapeutic.

Presence, in terms of artistic experience, is also called immersion, explained by philosopher, Samuel Coleridge, as a “suspension of disbelief”. This experience can occur in any medium, such as a good book, or a tv show. If you can imagine a quiet evening with a book where an exciting story can make you forget that you have been turning the page for hours. This is an example of immersion. You feel as though you are a visitor to the story, or a witness to the events unfolding in your minds eye. What virtual reality (VR) accomplishes is immersion but replacing the minds eye with direct visual input. Continue reading

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA