Pop culture is littered with references to the dangers of computers taking over. Consider 2001: A Space Odyssey. Though it’s far from the first dystopian dream of machines becoming more intelligent than their human masters, it foretells the warnings of more recent entrepreneurial visionaries like Elon Musk about the dangers of artificial intelligence.
But that stuff still feels like science fiction – the reality of science fact is much more sobering.
Moshe Vardi, a computer science professor and Guggenheim fellow at Rice University, argues that we are now living in an era in which the machines we have built are already well on their way to making us obsolete. These advances are causing profound changes in politics and culture that we can’t address through old ways of thinking about society.
In short, the future is now.
Vardi believes AI will perform half the jobs in the world in the next thirty years, in part because of the trajectory of automation over the past three centuries – machines that perform jobs that people used to do.
“As we’re building more and more sophisticated machines, people have to compete with machines and they have to do things that machines cannot do,” he says. “But the range of things that machines cannot do is getting smaller and smaller.”
Machines are stronger and faster than us, but humans are more agile and have more dexterity.
“The machines are getting better and better and better,” he says. “It’s not clear that we’re getting better at the same pace.”
What you’ll hear in this segment:
– How long this debate has been going on and how the Industrial Revolution affected the debate
– What the decline of the manufacturing sector means for the economy as a whole
– The concept of the “universal income” for compensating for the job loss