Updated: Sep 11, 2021

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. Although a generous welfare system could prevent such a social calamity, 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. It is often said that once machines can write their own code, humanity may be doomed. But machines already do that. The ultimate change will happen when machines develop their own motivations and desires. Just imagine the ceaseless changes that such technology, if ever developed, would bring to our lives.

Perhaps the little better news is that the pain of adjusting 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 new questions:

  • What is our function if there's nothing to fight for?

  • 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?

  • Or a meaningful and purposeful life without a hint of the daily grind that most of us now seem to despise?

Nature cares little about our ambitions and our relentless drive for wealth creation.

A very different society may 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, battling against the rough seas to stay afloat. But, unfortunately, the heavy load it carries may be the very cause of its demise. All that wealth onboard, yet pointless whenever Nature says no to our ambitions and our relentless drive for wealth creation.

The consequences to our kind could be catastrophic if we don't address the social and political consequences of powerful yet little-understood disruptive technologies, such as AI and the looming bonfire of traditional jobs it is likely to bring about. But, unfortunately, nature has a way of ruining our best-conceived plans.

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