Upwards of 50% of jobs are slated for replacement over the next decades, at least in the West, thanks to robots with AI, Artificial Intelligence. Soon there will be autonomous trucks with no truck drivers inside them. Where are the truckers going to go? Soon, I imagine, my UPS truck will back into my driveway and some buzzing drone will emerge from it to deposit my package on the porch.
I’ll miss my UPS man. Where will he go? How will he support his family?
In Bangalore, India, endless droves of hopeful young people arrive every day to work in tech. They sit in cubicles and try to learn American English. What will happen to all of them and their upwardly mobile dreams when AI is so smart that it can understand any question, speak with a Midwest accent and make the sale without a human involved? All those cubicles will empty out. Do those young people head back to the impoverished countryside they happily escaped? If they refuse to go, are they given a permanent stipend simply for existing? No work, but enough money to stay on in Bangalore, go to restaurants and eventually raise kids? And if there is no stipend, what are the implications? Will those former workers, now hungry, dispirited and homeless, sit back and take it?
The whole thing is a formula for disaster and increasing street revolutions, if you ask me. Why is the U.S. suffering from our current opioid epidemic? If you can’t find a job and have no hope for the future, you might as well get high and forget your daily misery. It doesn’t help that big pharma dumps millions of pills into already economically depressed regions to rake in those incredibly ugly dollars.
Now, with AI on the way, prepare for that basic candidate pool of unemployed and hopeless folks to grow even larger.
However, 50% of the jobs will be left, supposedly. To compete for them, what do American students need to learn?
In his 2017 book Robot-Proof, Northeastern University president Joseph Aoun says that what’s most important is to educate college students to invent, to create and to discover, not to fill their minds with facts. In other words, to end up creative and flexible enough to find something to do in life that even the cleverest AI can’t figure out.
That calls to mind a famous quote from Albert Einstein.
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”