Manless Airport

Jan 27, 2024

AI and automatic machines will not work everywhere, at least not as efficiently as humans. Modern businesses will continue to use machines to enhance operational efficiency and better performance. The virtual workforce has many circumstantial limitations, but the real workforce remains efficient in all circumstances. AI may replace workers from airport security tasks like other businesses. However, such airports are susceptible to increased security risks and public discomfort.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has this mysterious power to cause a lot of chaos. Everyone, from governments and users eager for its potential to flourish in business, to experts in the field, knows that it holds a lot of untamed potential. But here's the catch: this technology might spiral out of control, and that scares the very people who promote it. That is why some experts are not candid about certain aspects of AI. No wonder even experts do not share their knowledge with their colleagues. That is one risky part of the flamboyant AI world.

There's more to worry about than just hackers and the risk to jobs. AI's potential to snatch jobs worries many, even though businesses love it for the productivity and efficiency it promises. It's infiltrating every nook and cranny of the job market, replacing workers in service and manufacturing sectors alike. For instance, take a glance at today's sophisticated airports; they've transformed drastically. In the last four years, I have seen a remarkable difference in terms of the volume of workers deployed to serve the air passengers. It is a hassle-free passage through all security points. The number of staff is down and security checks are tighter, thanks to the deployment of artificial intelligence that scans every organ of the visitor and even hidden pockets of the baggage. I couldn’t see as many smiling Arab officers facilitating the passage last month as I could see four years ago in the same Airport. In short, the fabulous Dubai International Airport seemed fully automated, offering spectacular comforts for passengers. The number of staff serving passengers has dwindled significantly but offering a seamless yet less human-touch experience, thanks to AI.

However, despite their efficiency, these machines have limitations. Imagine a security machine unable to distinguish a harmless hair clip from a potential threat. To the machine, both are of the same objects.  The machine will find fault with footwear having a small nail in them. Such incidents may create hassles for passengers which otherwise can pass if a security person is posted for looking into it. If a machine finds medical-grade rods implanted inside the marrow cavity, it will flash a red light. The coding system of the security machine cannot exempt such cases, as it cannot differentiate the safety and risk of a metal rod. It's a machine, after all, reading codes and checklists, incapable of understanding context or human nuances. Such slip-ups could create unnecessary hassle for passengers, which a human presence could easily handle.

Every business is exploring ways to increase operational efficiency, productivity and cut manpower costs. These days work efficiency means software-guided delivery precision. These are all good as we have experienced the benefits of tractors on agriculture fields and the use of grain processing mills. But AI is not a tractor or processing mill and robots are not humans on the ground.

Productivity means less deployment of manpower for mega-size output. Less deployment of manpower again means a drastic reduction in employment opportunities.  While machines could replace a large-scale labour job without fully eradicating the labour force, AI can replace both skilled and unskilled workers. Still, there are places where labourers are more important than machines. The 17-day Silkyara tunnel rescue operation showed the machine can fail its running once it hits a spot that is not familiar to it or made for it. The machine cannot work by sensing the requirements of the circumstance.