Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Our future: When there are no jobs

What will it be like in 50 years, when there are no jobs? The debates...

I think there will be three phases to our future technological development, and our attitudes and debate. These phases are: near future; near Singularity; and post Singularity. (The Singularity is the point at which AI is as intelligent as humans.)

The near future phase will continue with the types of debate we often see about the future. Often these are about capitalism versus communism. It’s a shame that most of these debates take radical bi-polar views and see everything just in black and white. There will also be continued suggestions that humans can create new jobs, in areas that AI cannot automate, so we don’t have to worry – after all we survived the industrial revolution, and overall it was beneficial.

Near the Singularity, it will become obvious just what technology and, in particular, AI can do. At this point, if society and governments have not agreed suitable sustainable policies for national and global societies then people could start to become very anxious. Some of the arguments in the earlier above phase suggest that, like the industrial revolution, humans will always be able to create new jobs. However, in this phase it will become apparent that, soon, AI will do nearly all of the jobs we do, and do them much more efficiently! This is the glimmer of a new dawn in society, and it is radically different because for the first time we can see that: our intelligence will no longer be the dominant intelligence on planet Earth! We have to concede that there is a smarter kid arriving…

Post Singularity, our debates might become increasingly irrelevant as AI exponentially accelerates its IQ level. We’ve all seen the sci-fi doom and gloom scenarios so I’ll not dwell on that possibility. Instead, hopefully, at this point governments and global society got its act together and put in place policies that gave every citizen of planet Earth a good equal and sustainable lifestyle. With everyone pushed up to the top of Maslow’s pyramid [hierarchy of needs] we need only pursue things that satisfy our ego. That might be spending more quality time with people, being artistic and creative (just for fun and leisure), and following the amazing discoveries being made in science and technology (by AI of course). There will still be one thing humans can do better than AI and that’s human emotions*. This leaves us free to pursue lives that focus on things that really matter, and to stimulate positive emotions, and have a great quality of life.

Note that I starred human emotions. This assumes that we agree to *not* give autonomous AI entities human emotions, because this might be unwise [given that not all of our emotions lead to positive outcomes]. Yes, it could be very beneficial for AI to *understand* our emotions [to help us become more positive, and less destructive] but it would be unwise [I suggest] for AI to be driven by human emotions.

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