Note: this post was originally published on February 20, 2017. I’m reposting this and others on this site because I feel they contain key info upon which to build a rounded portrait of the challenges we face in the near future.
Please understand: We are heading for a profound change in our society due to the rise of artificial intelligence and the impending replacement of many human workers by robots.
I know there’s a lot of other stuff going on, and I’m concerned about those issues as well. But understand that within ten years—and perhaps as little as five—day-to-day life in this world is going to be significantly different due to significant technological advances that we are being insufficiently prepared for.
Business magnate and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently stated on Twitter:
Automation is going to cause unemployment and we need to prepare for it.
In the tweet, he linked to this article on Medium, “A warning from Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking,” which goes into detail about the projected human job loss from the rise of automation.
Gates recently suggested that a tax be levied on companies for every human worker replaced by AI/robots:
Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.
He also echoed Cuban’s warning regarding upcoming unemployment numbers:
You cross the threshold of job-replacement of certain activities all sort of at once. So, you know, warehouse work, driving, room cleanup, there’s quite a few things that are meaningful job categories that, certainly in the next 20 years, being thoughtful about that extra supply is a net benefit. It’s important to have the policies to go with that.
Finally, we have Musk’s comments at the World Government Summit in Dubai:
What to do about mass unemployment? This is going to be a massive social challenge. There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better [than a human]. These are not things that I wish will happen. These are simply things that I think probably will happen.
These are three people—Cuban, Gates, and Musk—who would all know exactly how far along things are in AI development and related business projections.
We the masses are not being properly prepared for his eventuality by the media or government. We are being distracted by a hundred other things—some also very important, but many that are quite trivial—rather than being prepared for this.
And I sometimes wonder if we are being distracted on purpose, so we don’t realize there is no plan in place.
Panem et circenses.