Recent months have been full of pundits predicting the future of technology, especially Artificial Intelligence.
Listen to Stephen Hawking cautioning that AI could spell the end of the human race:
Elon Musk says similar things:
These predictions are perhaps hard for people who do not understand Computer Science and Machine Learning to relate with. But here’s one that may be easier to understand for normal people.
Vinod Khosla (on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS show) talked about doctors and lawyers becoming obsolete just because technology will do their jobs a lot better. I couldn’t agree more with Vinod’s prediction. A computer has a more powerful memory and much better processing power to take imaging, lab, and other test data, run them against powerful algorithms, and do a much better job diagnosing patients, prescribing treatments.
I also agree with the timeline that Vinod projects: 50 years. Not 20 years. 50 years.
Where I disagree with him is in what happens to the planet, the species, human beings. Vinod predicts an age of abundance with much greater productivity and much greater opportunity for leisure.
That, I predict, will be true for only 0.01% of the people who play in the eco-system that builds, sells, operates those technologies that replace entire skill-sets. Millions and millions of others who today make a living from those professions will be without a profession.
This has happened before. But currently, with AI, the prognosis for this displacement is super fast, and of a grand scale, unforeseen thus far.
This will not create an age of abundance. It will create a highly unequal society with 90% of the population having nothing to do, no means to earn a livelihood, living like zombies, unable to afford anything.
Supporting this massive population of zombies will become economically impossible for governments.
We’re shockingly close to a dysfunctional world order.
Agree or Disagree?