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Fears around AI are just History on Loop
Discover - Flight - Fight - Repeat
Will AI take over the world?
Will we lose millions of jobs due to this technology?
Will the social fabric be manipulated through algorithms?
Will this lead to a widening of income inequality across nations?
Will the next war be about robots and drones instead of tanks & guns?
These are the questions plaguing the current media and they have made a feast out of the same. I read across publications and not one has spared the thought of the dangers of AI that could threaten us in many ways. It’s like the fire of fear, uncertainty, and doubt was matched with nonstop fuelling from all places with a mouthpiece🔥
But before you start worrying about how AI could jeopardize our society, how about you take a minute to think about similar doomsday scenarios that have played out before? I will share a few news clippings to help you think in that direction -
Scenario # 1
Did the Internet kill the music industry? Did it deprive the artists of their remuneration? Did it benefit only the freeloaders using Napster or Limewire?
Or did it create billions of dollars for artists and record studies via apple music, Spotify, and many other online media companies?
Spotify alone has paid out USD 40 billion to artists worldwide. If you include Apple, Youtube, and all other platforms - then the royalties paid out would exceed 100s of billions of dollars to date. Justin Bieber and many other artists were actually discovered via their videos on Youtube.
Not only did the internet save the music industry, but it also enabled many new industries eg. online books, podcasting, and sound libraries. It also allowed artists to train aspiring musicians via online video calls with crystal-clear sound and video streaming. It made COVID lockdowns bearable as we had our favorite artists just a click away while nested in our own homes/rooms.
Online media has distributed art and spawned artists very efficiently and profitably. This has only added to the culture and vibrancy in societies. And it just seems like the beginning.
Scenario # 2
Did Bitcoin and its many cousins replace fiat currency? Did you stop using USD EUR or INR? Did these inventions protect you against inflation as many touted? Did it protect you against uncertainty in developed markets?
It hasn’t done any of it and all the fears around it have come to naught. But the technology has engaged the brightest minds to create platforms that have many use cases. It’s being used for enhancing security, record management, tokenization of assets, distributed trust, and smart contracts.
Scenario # 3
Did CRISPR technology that requires gene manipulation lead to superhuman babies? Did the rich enjoy this privilege more than the poor? Do we have an army of hulks and ironmen being born on a massive scale?
Of course not !!
But it surely helped in cancer diagnosis, reduction in cellular toxicity, and CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T cell) therapy, which uses specially modified immune cells from a patient to treat cancer.
Internet, Blockchain, and CRISPR are technologies with massive use cases and are utilized to add efficiency and effectiveness to many systems and processes in all industries. They might disrupt some jobs, but they will create many more. They will hurt some industries, but they will spawn many more. They might have some collateral damage, but they will constantly improve upon their current version and develop into something stronger, more durable and also benefit society immensely.
We didn’t have Social Media Manager or Cyber Security roles 20 years back, but we do today. We couldn’t undertake barter exchange on a global scale, but blockchain solutions are being worked out for that today. We couldn’t think of diagnosing and curing cancer in the 1990s, but CRISPR provides better solutions today compared to the painful chemotherapy.
The fear around AI is similar to the story arc of these earlier technological developments. There is a discovery/invention, followed by euphoria by its proponents and doomsday scenarios being shouted out loud by the non-believers. This is followed by enough trial and error, finally to emerge with use cases that add efficiency to the current systems, and provides a whole new opportunity for employment and industries.
Deep Work author, Cal Newport, expresses the potential of AI in the most subtle manner possible - “Based on what we’ve learned so far, ChatGPT’s functionality seems limited to, more or less, writing about combinations of known topics using a combination of known styles, where “known” means that the program encountered a given topic or style enough times during its training. Although this ability can generate attention-catching examples, the technology is unlikely in its current form to significantly disrupt the job market. Much of what occurs in offices, for example, doesn’t involve the production of text, and even when knowledge workers do write, what they write often depends on industry expertise and an understanding of the personalities and processes that are specific to their workplace.”
In summary, it doesn’t threaten your job, as much as it provides you a tool to enhance your productivity and cut down your manhours for many administrative or editing tasks. It may not replace an author but could make it easier to summarise articles and store the information in a readily usable format. It may not write a book, but it could provide an outline to write a book on a particular subject.
But, just be careful about one thing. If your job relies on the system being inefficient or ineffective and you are grifting or faking your way through your working hours, then your days are numbered. But if you do actually add value and bring your own A-game to the table, then it would be unlikely for an automated system to replace you.
Unless we end up in a world run by robots and for robots.
Now that is not happening in my lifetime for sure 🤖
Recommendations for the week #
New York Times produced a brilliant piece on one of the fastest marathon runners in the world, and I highly recommend it. It was fascinating to read about the possibilities for a human being driven by purpose and abiding by systems in place to execute the game plan.
Cal Newport’s entire piece is on New Yorker and makes for a very insightful read on AI, ChatGPT, and the limitations around it. Not only does the piece talk about AI, it actually gets to the root of its functioning and explains it in the most palatable manner for a layman. And if you do survive till the end of this piece, then your fears around AI will be quashed forever. You might become vigilant about its powers, instead of being powerless against the many fears dished out on media outlets.
How does he do it? How does Morgan Housel’s mind produce truth bombs 💣 week after week? Is he on magic mushrooms where he goes deep into his psyche and taps into the consciousness of the alpha brain? Now these questions I have no answers to. But what I do know, is that his pieces make for the best reading for me and hence I can’t help sharing with you too. Enjoy this beauty here.
I’ve been in India for the last 9 days and have had a blast of a time with my family. I have basically been overfed, over-rested, and over spoilt 🤠 2 more days to make the most of it, and will be back in Dubai on Tuesday. Need to hit the gym immediately after landing💪🏼
Wishing you all a fantastic weekend.
Sending loads of love and luck🧿