Could we please stop calling
Artificial Intelligence artificial?
When someone loses his or her job due to AI or smart automation or whatever it's called, there's nothing artificial about the pain that this person will feel. There is nothing artificial about the mortgage bill that will come in the mail. And there is nothing artificial about intelligence that makes one's job obsolete. I mean, intelligence is real, whether it springs from the neurons of a human or a computer, right? I get it, though. Machine learning isn't quite the same as human learning. But if it affects how we live in the real world, then it doesn't make much difference to me.
Now that the Falcons, Gulfstreams, and Citations have made their ways back from Davos last weekend, it's a good time to point out an article I read by Kevin Roose of the New York Times. He was there and his reporting on it was not what many would've expected.
Basically, the job losses from AI will probably be much worse than anyone expects. Executives are moving to eliminate the need for human workers as fast as possible. The early days of AI and machine learning helped to eliminate 5 to 10% of labor, but now the thinking is "what could we do" to eliminate 50% or more of our workforce? This isn't the message they send publicly, in a time of rising populism.
This is going to be the biggest issue of our time. My intention isn't to write something to scare you! It is about figuring out what you and I could do to advance our skills and learn new skills. We all can figure out what we do that is a "human-interaction" centric function that can't be "machined away". But I am also finding myself accepting of new technologies that reduce my own interactions with other people; voicemail systems, menu ordering kiosks at McDonald's, Amazon, my bank's app, etc.
But talking about job destruction on a day that the U.S. Dept. of Labor announced a massive upside surprise in new non-farm payrolls does make me feel a bit alarmist. So, maybe things won't deteriorate as quickly as some say.
The point of this is that as we live and work longer, we're going to have to be open minded to retraining, learning new skills, and even be willing to venture into new careers. For anyone whose retirement is 10 or more years away, earning new certifications and class completion credits is something that everyone should be signing up for at this point. Niccolo Machiavelli wrote in The Prince that the time to prepare for war is during times of peace (Also attributed to Sun Tzu in The Art of War). Maybe we should interpret this as saying "during times of high employment, it is the best time to prepare for unemployment".
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