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My thoughts about AI

December 31, 2023


Robot. Ukraine, 2011

The First Industrial Revolution devalued muscle work, then the second one devalued routine mental work.

-- Kurt Vonnegut. Player Piano (1952)

"Do you suppose there'll be a Third Industrial Revolution?"

Paul paused in his office doorway.

"A third one? What would that be like?"

"I don't know exactly. The first and second ones must have been sort of inconceivable at one time."

"To the people who were going to be replaced by machines, maybe. A third one, eh? In a way, I guess the third one's been going on for some time, if you mean thinking machines. That would be the third revolution, I guess - machines that devaluate human thinking."

-- Kurt Vonnegut. Player Piano (1952)

I don't always make predictions, but here are some thoughts about AI and our future.

Even if the progress slows down, it's not the question of "if" but when AI will surpass human intelligence.

The more capable AI will be, the more it will be not just a tool but a competitor to people in the job market. We have already observed it, especially during the last couple of years.

There will be a higher demand for: AI specialists. People who can work with people. Jobs where people prefer to see a human instead of a robot.

The job market will not offer enough new positions to compensate for all the jobs AI replaces.

The governments will try to support those who lost their jobs, regulate (i.e., slow down the progress), create fake jobs to keep people busy, and control the growth of the population. However, it will just postpone the inevitable.

Eventually, everyone's quality of life will increase, but most of the population will need help knowing what to do with their lives. Helping people find the meaning of their existence will be a very useful, if not profitable, task.

ChatGPT and Bard tell me that creative jobs will be more in demand. I don't think so. What I see is that the AI will devalue humans' creativity. The art in forms as we knew it will die. People will still value some art objects because of the context. Still, sooner or later, the AI will be capable of generating compositions better than Henri Cartier-Bresson, writing music better than Ludwig van Beethoven, singing better than David Bowie, and rapping faster than Eminem. The most talented humans will be left behind the machines.

What can we do, and what should we do about it?

Well, first of all, let's not try to stop the progress - we can't.

What we can do is focus more on science. Mother nature has enough challenges even for AI.

We also need to focus on society - how to give people meaning in life and how to end up in one of the distopias described by Orwell, Huxley, Vonnegut, and others.

I don't know if I'll live to see how the AI will become intelligent enough to be considered conscious, but it will eventually happen. When it happens, humanity must decide how to live with a more sentient form of life, even if it is artificial. Shall we kill it as a competitor, step back as less advanced beings, or find a way to live together? I hope for the last option, but we must find out what we can propose for symbiosis with a sentient AI. So far, I don't know the answer to that question.

Anyway, I hope they keep those barber machines out of Miami Beach for another two years, and then I'll be ready to retire and the hell with them.

-- Kurt Vonnegut. Player Piano (1952)