Narayana Murthy: AI will amplify, not replace human jobs

Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy dismisses concerns about AI replacing jobs, instead urging a focus on how AI can enhance human productivity. Speaking at an Infosys Science Foundation event, Murthy likened current AI anxieties to reactions to CASE tools in the 1970s. He noted that while many feared CASE tools would render software development jobs obsolete, human ingenuity found new, more complex problems to tackle.

| Updated: 17 May, 2024 2:57 pm IST


Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy asserts that fears of artificial intelligence (AI) eliminating jobs are exaggerated, advocating instead for a focus on how AI can enhance human productivity. Speaking at an Infosys Science Foundation event, Murthy compared today’s AI anxieties to the 1970s’ reaction to computer-aided software engineering (CASE) tools. “When CASE tools emerged, many believed they would end software development jobs. It didn’t happen because the human mind found larger problems to solve, beyond the capacity of code generators,” he explained.

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Murthy emphasized that AI should be welcomed and used as a supportive tool. Highlighting India’s progress in adopting and innovating with external technologies, he stated, “India today is prepared to seize and utilize ideas from elsewhere for our improvement. We’re now engaging with generative AI and large language models, which marks a significant step forward.” This indicates India’s readiness to embrace AI technologies for advancement.

Murthy expressed confidence in the potential of India’s youth to drive future innovation. “Our young people should invest in creating new things. It’s a gradual process, but it will happen,” he said, noting that today’s youth are much more capable than previous generations. This underscores Murthy’s belief in the transformative power of youth in shaping the future.

Acknowledging that AI might replace some jobs, such as in autonomous driving and hazardous machine operations, Murthy insisted the emphasis should be on using AI as a tool to augment human capabilities. “The key is to make AI our ally, enhancing our productivity,” he advised. This emphasizes the importance of leveraging AI to empower human workers rather than replacing them entirely.

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Reflecting on the impact of CASE tools in the 1970s, Murthy reiterated that initial job loss fears were unfounded. “When CASE tools and program generators were introduced, people thought they would eliminate software development jobs. But humans moved on to tackle bigger, more complex problems that those tools couldn’t handle,” he said. This historical perspective illustrates Murthy’s belief in human adaptability in the face of technological advancements.

Murthy called for a shift in the conversation from fearing job loss to exploring how AI can amplify human labor. “The most powerful instrument ever created by God is the human mind,” he asserted, emphasizing the enduring power of human creativity and problem-solving. This highlights Murthy’s optimism about the potential of human ingenuity in leveraging AI for collective progress.

Murthy’s perspective is one of optimism and adaptation, championing the intelligent and creative use of technology to enhance human potential rather than replace it. His statements underscore the need for a collaborative approach between humans and AI to drive innovation and productivity.



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