31 March 2016
AI and tomorrow
An article covering the monumental story of an AI beating the world champion Go player discusses the societal ramifications: Deep Learning Is Going to Teach Us All the Lesson of Our Lives: Jobs Are for Machines. The program Alpha Go beat the human Lee Se Dol. Some of the ramifications:
The article presents jobs across two dimensions: routine and non-routine, cognitive and manual. Routine jobs in both cognitive and manual have stopped growing starting around 1990. The assumption/premise, and not a controversial one, is that this is a result of automation. The question, and this is the crucial, has become when will non-routine jobs succumb. As a software engineer, I tend to think that software engineering will survive (as did Go players...) as well as health care, based basically because I think non-routine cognitive jobs will survive the longest. And I still have the bias that human-to-human interaction will retain its value in some industries.
AIs referenced in the article: Amelia call center AI. She replaces call center workers across multiple languages and learns faster than any low-wage human. The Viv personal assistant which promises to bypass the ubiquitous advertising that pays for web content. These subjects are regularly discussed in the subreddits Futurology and DarkFuturology. So the subject of post-scarcity mediation is not something for the distant future. As jobs progressively become not-done by humans, the question of how do humans get money to pay for materials (produced by machines?) becomes more common. When there are no jobs for humans, how do they pay for food etc.? The basic income proponents are already thinking about that and Switzerland is already preparing.
Is the blacksmith analogy dead? The confidence that, just like smithees had to adapt to the elimination of their jobs 150 years ago, current jobs will morph into a new job market. Maybe there are no new jobs to replace the eliminated. And, as a developer, my whole career has been eliminating jobs.
Valuable reading is 20 Crucial Terms Every 21st Century Futurist Should Know. It suggests a radical socialist idea to me: The move from some automation to complete automation starts with a redistribution of wealth to those in control of the automation. It initially appears as the class struggle. What happens to those wealthy and poor when the economy collapses?
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