People from all walks of life are beginning to clamour about the possibility of AI taking over our jobs - from creative work like music and design to more technical work like finance or even coding. However, AI is still pretty stupid, and has some pretty famous mess ups, including thinking Putin is a horse, or taking random shadows to be bears.
But these aren’t permanent limitations. More training, more models, and better coding will eventually lead to AI being perfect - and maybe one day, actually fully capable of taking over our jobs, in all sectors of life. So what happens then?
Yep, this is Science Fiction, but slightly reimagined.
One might think that managerial jobs will still hang around. Take a company which develops apps for example. Sure, AI can replace all the coders, developing various features in the blink of an eye, commandeered by the decision making overlords. But eventually, the number of features one can add, goes down to nothing - then all that remains are weeding out customer problems and the one in a million bugs, which are both automatable through AI.
In fact, AI might be advanced enough to make decisions on what features might be required to better the engagement and usage of this particular app. This is possible because audience perception and retention is just data - and that’s what AI is amazing at processing.
A possible result of this, is for all similar products to end up with the same end features - as these features will be what is statistically required of people, rather than what the original creator believed was what people should use or want to use. And what would consequently happen, is that such platforms would die out, until the one which was most popular before the AI boom remains. Or maybe even the one with the most stable architecture during the days when it was coded by a human being will be the one that endures.
In other words, there will be fewer companies. But more importantly, there won’t be fewer jobs. There will be no jobs.
What about governance? What about law? Once again - data. It is possible that by this stage in humanity’s evolution, every conceivable problem has been sorted out through law or legislature. You just need a computer to read through it, draw a parallel and sort it out. Data is collected everywhere and getting truly off the grid might become impossible, and hence crime without a trace might become non-existent.
The Rise of the Robots
But no! You shriek. Manufacturing! You yell. Hard labour! You scream, grasping at the last strands of your hair.
Well, if we are assuming an era of essentially perfect AI, then its not a far throw to assume that robotics has reached there as well. Robots can do stuff a human can do, apparently having reached humanoid levels of flexibility and maneuverability. There are no drinks breaks, no torn ligaments that require months to fix. You even have robots to fix robots, and robots to fix those (A pure Monica moment). You have robots to manage databanks and servers. Robots can catch criminals. Even take on entire gangs, with no risk of human life.
Here as well, there’s no need for humans. Mining for natural resources, manufacturing and even farming can be run solely by robots.
Ok, but what does this mean?
It means that there’s no need for money. People don’t need to work - so there’s no way to gain money. And since even the production stage is automated, there’s no revenue going into that end of things either. So ideally, even prices go down to 0. Here, there’s a net nil - no one’s getting money from anywhere. Paying for something has no meaning. Everything is free.
But what about Art?
So, folks of the humanities, there’s hope here. The point of art, though variable from person to person, always comes down to one thing - touching human emotion. Its something we can’t quantify, nor something we can program or boil down to an equation. Its the one thing that cannot be touched by technology. Or is it?
Actually it can be - not directly though. What technology is incredibly good at doing, is completing stuff accurately. What artists might be able to use it for, is bringing their ideas to life, exactly the way they had imagined it. Tartellini’s Devil Sonata might come out the exact way he had heard the Devil play it. Or Fermat’s theorem would have never be constrained to the margins of the one book he happened to be reading. Sculptors wouldn’t be limited by the malleability of their clay, nor artists to the colors on their palette.
The physical prowess of the artist could eventually mean nothing, through the sheer precision of technology, but the brain or the idea of the people behind it, would always account for something.
But then again, people never appreciate the nuances. Technology, with its approximation of human emotion brought out in art - through samples, through prompts, through brute force - can come incredibly close to emulating human art. And the public will buy it. Oh wait, they won’t. They don’t have money to use.
So we just get stuff for free, forever?
That’s a good guess, but no. Sure, medicine might evolve to the point where our lives can extend indefinitely. And they’d be better safety measures present in all forms of technology to ensure no freak accidents occur. But, we are human. We would come to the point where we would question our existence. What we are here for. What could be left in our lives to do. With no work, possibly no need for education, all that humans would have to do, is procreate (let’s not get into what technology could do there). And that’s it. With all their free time, humans could do anything. But they would eventually run out. Humans would get bored. They would get bored with nothing left to do. No need to excel at something. No necessity to learn or experience. Just living a boring and long life.
How do we stop it?
I have painted a scary picture, but how do we stop it? We can’t stop AI itself, but what we can do is make it intentionally redundant. Fail safes that just stop equipment from functioning a certain period of time in. But whether this would be enough, is an entirely different story. As, wait for it, this can be automated as well.