How I Find Positivity in AI's Taking of Jobs

One thing I get asked a lot is why I'm so positive on AI when I think it'll remove over 80% of jobs

Within our Unsupervised Learning Community we had an interesting discussion last week. One of our members said—and I’m paraphrasing here:

I know I’m supposed to be happy about all this AI innovation, but all it does is make me sad.

I responded by saying something like:

I feel like that too sometimes, but it reminds me to lean in to building and sheparding people into the positive version. Because the negative version would be bad.

A different member then responded with:

What’s the positive? That we will have survived while the other 80% lost their jobs?

This is an important point that gave me a lot of pause. I responded in the thread and we had a long discussion there, and I’ve now turned my response into this essay below.

The reason I can see "positive" in any of this is that I think it's kind of the wrong question.

The question assumes we have the option of maintaining the past. If the question is,

"Which would you prefer, the ability for humans to resist technology and keep working their old jobs where they spend 8 hours a day moving paperwork around, and they're paid barely enough to raise a family, or new AI-driven world where most of those jobs go away?"

Part of our anxiety with AI comes from the belief that we’re choosing the wrong option. But we’re not choosing anything; it’s just happening.

I think a lot of people will say, yes, let's keep those jobs. At least it's better than nothing. But that's not the choice we have.

AI is coming not because we're choosing it. We didn't choose reading. We didn't choose the internet. We didn't choose smartphones. And we aren't choosing AI. These things are simply happening. It's the illusion of choosing or rejecting the future that's producing anxiety, or at least, it's exacerbating it.

The stoic option we have (not in the emotionless sense, but in the true Stoicism sense) is to accept inevitability and find the maximum number of ways to benefit from it. In this case, I think the benefits are clear.

We are being prompted to move past a world in which we spend 8 hours a day doing what David Graeber called "Bullshit Jobs."

Subscribe to keep reading

This content is free, but you must be subscribed to Unsupervised Learning to continue reading.

Already a subscriber?Sign In.Not now