Let’s face the facts and see the future of work
This is like a third installment to two post I recently wrote focusing on Artificial Intelligence. The first one basically explains in a simple way what AI is and the second one analytically answers whether AI will ever be able to make jokes (both are locked posts). In this article, I’m diving into the debate of the future of work for humans when AI reaches full potential.
I do not buy this idea that AI (at full potential) is going to make people redundant and create a gross imbalance regarding employment. I do not deny the threat it poses but I believe people will be well equipped to scale the hurdle. Remember when computers and automation first showed up and there was a lot of noise about how it was going to harm people financially. But the reality is here and things are better for people and the world. New technology has showed up before and it will show up again. AI is not the first and it won’t be the last to show a promise of significant disruption. It’s interesting that AI and blockchain are both at their dawns at the same time. This would definitely change the world as we know it, but it certainly won’t be the end of the world. If I would predict, I’d say life will be so much more better than it has been in previous times.
Our problem concerning technological disruption is not the technology or the potential of the technology, rather it is education and how we have chosen to improve our system of preparing the young ones. For example, if we are sincere about the full potential of AI, are the institutions of learning showing it? If AI can beat you at what you are training yourself at, you may be setting yourself up for a weak future. But AI can do everything! No, AI cannot do everything. There are things AI cannot do. AI cannot be original; AI cannot create. I discussed one in the previous post that AI cannot make jokes. Meaning, entertainment will still be governed by people. People need fresh stories and insights in entertainment. AI can only refurbish old ones and combine trending patterns. I am aware that a lot of content in entertainment today is refurbished but maybe that’s why we need AI, so that people can go back to creating original content and leave the artificial to AI.
Also, AI can revolutionize the healthcare sector by being the surgeons of tomorrow, carrying out the most complicated surgeries with pinpoint precision and accuracy. But nobody wants to be on the sickbed holding the hands of a robot. You can be sure people will always respond to people. The robot hands can be as soft and succulent as a human hand, but it’ll never feel the same way. This is not all. Who wants to talk to a robot? Who wants to pour themselves out to a robot? Look at the recent laws made to curb the access and usage of private data by big tech companies. We haven’t even gone full AI yet, and people are already put off by their lives being monitored by big tech. Imagine if you meet a robot on the street and you ask it what it knows about you, and it gave details of your recent choices, long term preferences, and your movement in the last 24 hours. What would you think; cool or spooky?
There are too many things AI won’t be able to achieve that we suppose it would. Do not underestimate the effect of regulation on the technology. Maybe it will never be allowed to reach full operational potential because of regulations, it is still to early to tell. But on the basis of replacing humans on all fronts, it takes someone who chooses to remain unwise after school to get swept off the ground by AI (perhaps like the picture above). One of the things that people need to be conscious of is where society is going. If you know today where things are headed and you still set yourself up to be disrupted, it’s not wisdom. Many would argue about the time it will take for these changes to become full blown reality, but it is better to assume sooner than later.
Can AI plan an invasion and take over the world? Absolutely not. AI cannot have a vision or purpose on its own except someone designs it that way. It cannot design itself that way (through deep learning) because deep learning is to improve the efficiency of what the AI was designed for. To lead or govern people is not in the jurisdiction of AI. They can work in harmony with people but people cannot be subject to them. If people cannot be subject to AI in common workplaces, how then can they take over the world? AI can provide evidence and facts, but judgement will never rely on them. That’s simply because no human will accept it. So, if you are scared about the prospect of AI, this should calm your mind.
I believe the future of work is remote. Remember how the financial world is structured. If a significant percentage (in some places as small as 9%) people do not have an income, the economy is in trouble. You know how much debts these countries have. And for AI to stay in reality, there has to be consumers and consumer spending. Government need to keep taking taxes. An AI that will put an end to that will certainly not live to see the light of the day. So, for us to see the AI we want and love in full potential, more the world needs more programmers, people managers, entrepreneurs, (truly talented) entertainers, etc., and certainly less people in employee-driven careers.
In conclusion, an AI apocalypse is not coming but a work revolution might be on its way. I hope you are rightly positioned for it. Cheers!