As my colleague Anna Pastak pointed out in her dialogue opener for AI last week, jobs are something that people worry about when we talk about AI and digitalisation. It’s understandable, yet exaggerated concern.
“After all, what we ultimately ought to protect is humans – not jobs” says Yuval Noah Harari (21 Lessons for the 21st Century) and it’s a great thesis while developing our society. People, not their employment, are and should always be at the centre of our values. When thinking about future, we need to focus on making possible a happy, fulfilling and productive life for human beings and not just focus on which jobs might stop existing.
Another notion Harari brings out is that we didn’t stop playing chess although IBM’s chess program Deep Blue beat the chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. Even if a machine might be able to do something better than a human being, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the profession becomes obsolete. It might even give the profession better chances to fulfil its obligations. In not-so-far future we will be able to use artificial intelligence to coach us.
“Homo sapiens is just not built for satisfaction. Human happiness depends less on objective conditions and more on our own expectations. Expectations, however, tend to adapt to conditions, including to the condition of other people.” This is something that we can do while developing Machine Learning and Artificial intelligence. We can master our expectations and make sure development of AI is headed towards a better future.
Last but not least is a notion of “redundant drivers and doctors will just have to find something else to do” if artificial intelligence would erase these jobs and this whole idea is transformation. Transformation doesn’t just happen, especially not over night and that gives the competitive advantage to humans over machines. We can learn new things and move towards a different career path. Think about how many people work in social media nowadays. There wasn’t even a notion of SoMe three decades ago. Life around us changes. It doesn’t make it necessarily a problem, as we can adapt and we can control our destiny.
Famous last words could be that “I’ll never let machine do thinking on my behalf.“ It’s either going to be too late or really the famous last words of humankind. Machines are already doing great many activities. We have already outsourced number of tasks to machines. From elevator automation to Siri dialing numbers on our behalf. There is a really long way to go and many options and choices before we need to be outsourcing our thinking to machines.