AI revolution 'more compassionate and moral' than NZers

Hold onto your job - artificial intelligence (AI) is driving us through a fourth industrial revolution.

Up to half our existing jobs will be replaced by robots, nanotechnology and AI within 10 to 15 years and many are warning New Zealand business is woefully unprepared.

Sophie is Air New Zealand's face of digital disruption. Soon she may be booking your flight.

Sophie was made by New Zealand-based company Soul Machines, which is about to roll out digital employees to some major companies.

"We are doing a lot of work with the leading automotive brands in the world," development manager Greg Cross tells Newshub. "We are doing interesting work with banks and financial service institutions."

Vic Crone, the head of the Government's innovation agency, says with developing technology, a staggering amount of jobs will go.

"There are a number of different studies out there. Anywhere between 30 to almost 50 percent of our jobs will go, with artificial intelligence and robots coming through our workforce over the next 10 to 15 years.

"It's the biggest change that we have ever seen in the last three industrial revolutions."

Driverless trucks and cars are being tested worldwide, while chatbots are already being rolled out for customer service roles.

Robots are assisting surgery and accountants, actuaries and lawyers are all about to be disrupted.

But a recent survey by accountancy firm MYOB found more than half (56 percent) of Kiwi businesses believe they will not be affected in any way.

Google's head of engineering predicts by 2029, computers will reach singularity - where you won't be able to tell the difference between a computer and a human.

AI researcher Dr Ben Goertzel recently brought one of the world's most humanlike robots to New Zealand - Sophia version 6.

She brought with her the Singularity Net, a cloud-based network to which all AI devices - be it robots or toasters - can upload and share with other AI machines. It's a self-organising network of artificial intelligences.

But Dr Goertzel says you shouldn't be afraid. His vision is for AI to be compassionate.

"If we do it right, they will be more compassionate and more ethical than us," he tells Newshub.

"Human ethics and morality leave a lot to be desired and there is no reason to believe that AI can't do better."

Dr Goertzel says one day, we will upload our brain to the cloud - but we will also have a choice.

"If some people want to remain legacy-style humans, you know that's beautiful in a way. I don't think we should stop them.

"I think the vast majority of people are going to want to plug chips into their brains and fuse with the super intelligent mind matrix when that becomes possible."

There will still be jobs. Machines may be good at data, but humans are needed to interpret it.

We have roughly 10 years to adapt, and New Zealand's preparation for it is falling short.