AI–the Future May Not Be Benign

I had breakfast this morning with an AI guy and we agreed that AI stocks might be a bit ahead of themselves, but they are red hot and, further, that the power of AI will be substantially disruptive in the future and maybe the near-term also.  Those with data plus AI power will know the buttons to push in order to win a wide variety of games, including the games of profit, longevity, security from marginalization, and mating.

Two dark glimpses of the impact of AI in our futures can be had by reference to two current books, one non-fiction and the other a new novel.

Yual Harari, best-selling author of Sapiens, has a new book entitled “21 Lessons for the 21st Century,” in which he argues that AI and big data will drive wealth and power and create a ruling class that will outperform and render redundant — well, the rest of us.  Combined with control over gene editing technology, these humans will end up richer, smarter and longer-lived.  Further, although other changes in technology have ultimately generated new jobs (after some admittedly disastrous personal dislocations), this next revolution in the workplace will be different.  In the past, each industrial revolution created a new pool of required physical labor and presence.  In the future, AI and its machines will have no need for labor or indeed people.  When AI and machines rule the landscape, those in control will have all the money and all the power (and all of the few jobs).

Ian McEwan’s new novel, “Machines Like Me,” explores a future where cyborgs are introduced into human society, possessing vast initial knowledge and powerful machine learning skills.  It would be unkind to reveal the plot of a novel to potential readers, but suffice it to say that the fall-out from this revolution is not wholly benign to us homo sapiens.

Those of us of such seniority as we will not need to compete in the world that is being created may feel left behind, but being left behind in a brighter world may not be the worst choice….

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