How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the AI
In the world of technology startups, the past, present, and probably the next few years are all about artificial intelligence. And so it’s understandable that the question on many of our minds is if we should personally fear AI. Let’s take a look at the issue.
Artificial intelligence technologies are currently advancing in several directions: narrow AI, general AI, and strong AI. Most AI technologies in the spotlight today fall into the category of narrow AI. Perhaps this technology isn’t as complex as you think—just look at how many analogs exist for ChatGPT, DeepMind, and Midjourney, and how quickly they emerged.
However, Microsoft spends $700,000 a day on ChatGPT—on servers, electricity, and the work of scientists and engineers. We live in a capitalist society, which means that $700,000 a day needs to be repaid, and since Microsoft is a publicly traded company, it’s preferable to repay it with a substantial profit.
Old science fiction novels taught us that artificial intelligence would free us from routine and hard work, allowing us to play with our children, take walks with our spouses, paint pictures, write stories, create games—in short, to be creative. But it turns out that current and upcoming AI technologies are automating expensive labor—often artistic labor.
If you sweep streets, collect garbage, mop floors for a living, and so on—you have nothing to fear; AI won’t replace you. But if you work behind a computer in a large IT corporation with a view of the coast, your job is a desirable target for AI automation. Of course, you won’t be replaced immediately. Initially, AI might generate images of people with wrong shadows and six fingers; you’ll laugh at them and post the image generation results as memes. At work, you’ll “humanize” these images, make them “right” for a human perspective. However, the most creative part of the job, conceptualizing images, AI has already taken from you, and now you’re engaged in less creative and more monotonous work. Your work productivity has increased, and its complexity has decreased. Now, more artists can do what you do, and if necessary, you’ll be replaced by a more compliant and cheaper specialist.
In the near future, with AI’s assistance, all highly paid creative professions will become both less lucrative and less creative.
Now, let’s imagine that the cost of creating a new “narrow” AI has drastically decreased, just as we’ve seen with the production cost of mobile phones or computer equipment in general. With cheap narrow AI, I will have only one reliable criteria for deciding if you could be replaced with artificial intelligence: Do you work behind a computer?
That’s it. If you work behind a computer, you can be replaced by artificial intelligence.
Even if you don’t work behind a computer, but you earn a lot and have a difficult character—your otherwise unique work can often be digitized and replaced by AI.
Perhaps you think it’s time to stand up against corporations and protect your rights to images, texts, voices, facial expressions, and more.
Let’s look at a historical example of technology threatening professions. In the early 20th century, some of the highest-paid professionals were communication engineers; they were bearers of advanced technologies and progressive ideas. However, railway transport eliminated many carriers and station attendants’ jobs. Do you know anything about their struggle? Moreover, how are railway engineers influencing things now? When was the last time you read news about railway startups or notes from a prominent railway engineer on social media?
You may think, “that was a long time ago; things are different now.” But they’re not as different as you may think—just look at taxi drivers and how Uber, Bolt, DiDi, Mytaxi, and Freenow have affected the payment for their work!
So the question now is, what should we do? Well, street cleaning and garbage collection won’t be automated for a long time. It’s challenging to automate the work of a plumber, electrician, builder, firefighter, or police officer—they’re all jobs that require physical strength, resourcefulness, and are often associated with risks to life. Considering the cost of a hypothetical RoboCop and the high risk of losing it, few corporations will make one in the foreseeable future.
We’re heading into a future full of dangers and adventures. We don’t quite know what the future holds, but with artificial intelligence technologies, it will certainly be interesting!