The ability of AI to automate much of what we do, and its potential to destroy humanity, are two very different things. But according to Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, they’re often conflated. It’s fine to think about the far-future implications of AI, but only if it doesn’t distract us from the issues we’re likely to face over the next few decades. Chief among them is mass automation.
There’s no question that artificial intelligence is poised to uproot and replace many existing jobs, from factory work to the upper echelons o white collar work. Some experts predict that half of all jobs in the US are vulnerable to automation in the near future.
But that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to deal with the disruption. A strong case can be made that offloading much of our work, both physical and mental, is a laudable, quasi-utopian goal for our species.
In all likelihood, artificial intelligence will produce new ways of creating wealth, while freeing humans to do other things. And advances in AI will be accompanied by advances in other areas, especially manufacturing. In the future, it will become easier, and not harder, to meet our basic needs.