winning combination. Now, the human component is being
phased out in favor of machine learning from first principles:
allowing the program to make its own judgments using deep
learning, a neural network technology that simulates the
processes inside the human brain. The system is given just
the rules of the game and learns by playing against itself.
Using this approach, AlphaZero and AlphaGoZero have
quickly surpassed their traditionally trained equivalents:
AlphaGoZero took only 40 days.
An engineering design has many more rules and
constraints than chess, but formulating them and
converging on an optimum solution seems mostly to be a
question of processing power.
Many analysts expect that Moore’s Law will come to an
end around 2025. Year-on-year processing improvements
may be less dramatic for standard architectures, but
manufacturers are developing new AI-friendly chips:
Nvidia’s DGX- 2, for example, is optimized for deep
learning and can achieve up to 2,000 TFLOPS (trillion
floating-point operations per second). As such levels of
processing power become widely available, it seems likely
that an increasing percentage of engineering tasks will be
turned over AI systems.
Incidentally, the British Broadcasting Corporation
(BBC) has a website to help you gauge the risk of your
job being automated within the next 20 years, based on
research from Oxford University and Deloitte.
Roles requiring employees to develop creative and
original ideas hold a significant advantage in the face
The table below shows the estimates for some
Job Likelihood Rank
of Automation (%) (out of 366
Engineer 13 274
Engineer 10 280
Technician 83 79
QA Professional 7 298
SW Development 8 284
The safest career? A manager or owner of a hotel or
bar—0.4 percent automation risk. ECN