Automation is coming.
It is affecting nearly all industries.
And it would be stupid to ignore it.
But aren’t we taking the frenzy a tad too far?
This article is a bit messy – I have tried my best to give it a decent shape – but if we are to be honnest, it needs some serious re-writing – which I will probably do – but I wanted to get this out now anyway – so take it as a work in progress with maybe a few unfinished thoughts / sentence here and there…)
Human Need Not Apply
(Watch this one if you haven’t!)
AI will replace the human race
If we are to believe headlines :
AI will replace HR (MIT Tech Review)
AI will replace project managers (LPMO)
AI will replace the customer services (The Telegraph)
AI will replace CEO (Jack MA, Alibaba founder)
So basically, it sounds like the only one that AI will not replace are the customers (unless for B2B I guess… I mean if all the companies are made of AI employees and AI boss, then who run the purchasing department…)
And actually if we are to belive Elon Musk, Tesla CEO artificial intelligence poses an “existential threat” to human civilization. (NPR)
So, while we can clearly invision AI create serious redundancies in some industries – like for instance in logistics with self-driving trucks or containers management system like Amazon is using, but like many ports around the world as well – to claim AI will take over humanity like Elon Musk is kind of trying to say – is a bit far fetched.
Fear is a tool to influence public opinion
Actually, if we were to believe everything that is published, every working person will be a bot, no job is safe and we will all end up unemployed and therefore we have to introduce Universal Basic Income as a solution because we cannot work with each other anymore – all job have been taken – so now – your job is to be a customer – so here is your check and go buy what the AI has produced for you.
ok maybe I am over dramatizing the situation but honnestly, if you read what is being published, this is exactly the kind of future the press is sort of painting for us.
The mantra seems to be:
All job will be replaced, therefore there will be mass unemployement, therefore we have to subsidize your existence to keep the economy going (i.e. so you can keep being a customer to a system that has replaced you).
Let’s pause to think for a moment
First, if machines can do these jobs for us, great, why not after all…
I mean – why would it be a bad thing inherently to have better means of production, cheaper and more efficient?
That would probably limit the amount of accidents in the workplace – especially in jobs like logistics.
So yeah, it will generate unemployement.
Well, clearly we will have the reassess a few things.
Seems like carreer management and personal developpment will be booming.
Some says these people cannot find a job elsewhere.
Why do we go to work on the first place?
Why do we need these specific jobs?
What will we do with our lives if most of todays’ jobs are gone? (Which is a much more frightening questions that I don’t think is discussed very often)
If this is such a bad thing, why did we introduced AI on the first place?
And it is good, why is everybody so worried?
I think we should consider a couple of things.
- Let’s make the difference between a “job” and “work”
- Let’s try to see what still make us human once machines are doing everything for us
Job vs Work
We all get the difference between value production and just getting busy.
At least on paper.
Because sometime even the most efficient people are caught into “getting busy” and are not accomplishing anything.
Just being employed – or being useful to those around you – to society – is how I see the major difference between jobs and work.
In a 12 min TED talk Rudy Karson make the point that in the future what matter is not to have a job but to be useful, to make an impact:
And I would argue that somehow this is connected to the fundamental element that we have and that machine cannot replace us.
The quest for purpose.
What makes us human?
When we have jobs we don’t like, we are looking for ways to improve them.
So we created Artificial Intelligence (among other things) so they would free us from the daunting task of doing boring shit.
In a nutshell, that’s how we got started with AI.
But then we started to realise it makes some (or all if you believe headlines) our fellow humans’ activities less relevant.
So there a couples of points we could and should think about:
- These robots are tools in the hand of humans – so let’s not forget that AI makes anybody miserable in the end, that is still the result of an other human being making use of AI in a specific way that apparently doesn’t improve the life of everybody…
- If the work we do is not efficient and we are wasting our lives – getting busy with a fucked up job – maybe mass unemployement – somehow is way to structure change how we occupy our lives – what are filling up our days with…
- Headlines from 20’s or 30s or 60’s have always been fascinated by technology taking over humanity and so far, it hasn’t really happen.
All these are open points.
The conclusion I want to make here is maybe less down-to-earth – but not less important:
Robots exist because they work.
We work because exist …
Since, we are alive we work and create things around us, through this work.
We can create the smile on the face of customer or create a piece of engineering that will aleviate somebody else situation.
We work because deep down we want to feel part of society and of the world, we want to feel connect to them in a meaningfull way.
Robots just work – at best.
They can do many thing instead of us.
But they cannot live our lives instead of us.
As long as we exist, we will do things for one another.
The fact that we have quantified these interaction with money and categorised them it in jobs, doesn’t take from the fact that our activities are a way to express our connection with others.
That’s why we feel more alive in a job where we feel meaningful, useful, where we can contribute and our opinion can be taken in account, etc.
So, yeah… this whole article is all over the place and not very well structure – I am totally aware of that – but I needed to put get it out so that’s kind of a first draft to be refined…