AI and Jobs

In chapter 6, Kai-fu Lee gets to the subject of the damage that AI will do. He says that all of the fantasies about AI destroying humanity because it will become too powerful are silly. And I agree with him.

The worst damage from AI, says Lee, is the destruction of many jobs, exploding inequality, and the transformation of some countries into irredeemable, backwards hellholes that have no hope of ever catching up.

I agree with Lee that this is a danger of developing AI capabilities.

I don’t agree, however, that being displaced out of productive life, in his scenario, is bad.

In the world he described, the “lucky” minority that has jobs and incomes and participates in “the digital utopia” are the saddest, most pathetic little bastards the world has ever seen. Everything that makes life worth living is taken from them. They are turned into worse than animals. They are things. And not even things of the highest order.

Lee is sincerely sorry for the losers who will not be able to find employment and, hence, will lose access to the “wonders of AI,” as he describes them. But hey, what’s more valuable, having a shopping cart recognize your face and lecture you gently on what you should be eating and drinking or having a subjectivity, an interiority, a right to exist unobserved, unknown, unmessed with, and unmodified?

Life where you are constantly monitored and tinkered with “for the sake of others’ improved control of you” (Zuboff) isn’t really life. It’s a horror show. On some level, Lee recognizes this. Psychiatrists, he says, will definitely be in huge demand in the AI world, and their work would never be outsourced to technology.

13 thoughts on “AI and Jobs”

  1. You know, if you substitute “AI” for “lobbyists”, then substitute “lucky minority who participate in digital utopia” for “politicians”, then read the whole thing all over again, the blog post still generally makes sense.


    1. Gosh, it totally does. :-)))

      Did you hear that the new House corona relief bill has funding for lobbyists? The word pathetic doesn’t begin to describe this.


      1. No, I didn’t know that. But I do understand why so many of the older generation say things like “just let the virus free so it can wipe everything out” a little better now.


    1. I’m not entirely sure but the best theories are either
      -Farrow is about to drop bombshells on someone at the NYT and they want to get ahead of the story or
      -this is the work of Anita Dunn and and this is preemptive strike against the whole me-too idea in order to protect Joe “Roman Hands” Biden…


      1. It came out right after the “Pedo Joe” clip started trending on Twitter. #MeToo became a huge liability, so now it’s time to discredit #MeToo.


    1. This is especially cute in the context of the scandalous announcements where “trans kids ages 8 to 30” are invited to closed pool sessions together.


      1. I just love that this article is like “smartphones are causing people to reject social relationships in favor of staring at a screen…anyway, here’s why this is a good thing!”


        1. “here’s why this is a good thing!”

          God, I HATE that “here’s why…..” abomination (and its variations) that has appeared in recent years in online media…. it’s so infantilizing…. “Hey, people who long to be treated like toddlers, have I got good news for you!”


  2. Subjectivity, interiority, sure. But a life unobserved, unknown, unmessed with, and unmodified is one approximating that of a forgotten corpse. Some of these things listed are just an ineliminable part of being among people at all, and some of them are actually valuable.

    AI as a substitute so poor for being seen by peers that it’s offensive to human dignity makes sense to me. Being seen as a problem in itself does not.


    1. They are valuable if you have chosen them. If you never had the option to decide how much observation and control you want, it’s not that valuable.

      Here’s an example. Some people who are trying to lose bad habits put a rubber band on their wrist and snap themselves when a craving hits. There’s a difference between them doing this and me spying on you, deciding that your lifestyle is unhealthy, and snapping you gently with electrical currents to make you abandon your habit.


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