Updated: May 11
It is now widely believed that within 15-20 years, about half of the western workforce will lose their jobs to AI and automation.
This means that 1/2 of the working population could end up being thrown on a permanent scrappy. But even if this was resolved with a generous welfare system, voices abound that such mass displacement of traditional jobs could seriously weaken society.
A permanent loss of employment could lead to a perpetual sense of hopelessness amongst the new “never-to-work-again” class. Isolation, mental issues, alcohol, drug abuse - this could be the price we pay for bringing AI into our lives.
Perhaps the little better news is that the pain of having to adjust to the brave new world of AI will, in time, force us to look deeper into our very existence, as individuals and as a society. It will force us to ask ourselves questions that we seldom bothered to face:
What is the meaning of us here at all?
What is our purpose if there is no daily struggle to survive?
Or could it be the prospect of limitless freedom that we find so terrifying?
Can we comprehend a life worth living, free of perpetual existential crisis?
A meaningful and purposeful life without a hint of the daily grind that most of us now seem to despise?
It might not be too big an assumption if one were to say that a very different society will eventually emerge, very different from the one you and I know. The modern society, the way it runs its daily business, is a bit like the massively overloaded cargo ship on the above picture, battling against nature to stay afloat. And its heavy load may be the very thing that will make it capsize. All that wealth onboard, yet all pointless it would seem if Nature were to seal its fate, as it has done to us so many times during our relatively short existence as human spices, utterly oblivious to our existence.
The consequences to our kind could be catastrophic if we don't address the social and political ramifications of powerful yet little-understood disruptive technologies, such as AI and the looming bonfire of traditional jobs it will bring about. And don't forget Nature's infinite power to ruin our best-conceived plans.