Since the COVID outbreak, technology has advanced in unprecedented ways, irrevocably changing the way we live. Now the entire education system, the building block of our future, is online, something we thought impossible before the pandemic. We will have a generation of college graduates who have never met in real life or shared any physically intimate moments. The same goes for our livelihoods. Digitization and the widespread use of Robo-workers and AI (Artificial Intelligence ) will change the way we work and interact in public spaces.
A person’s value is defined by their work. If a person does not work or contribute anything of monetary value to society, they are considered irrelevant. We consider homeless, mentally unstable, chronically ill people as useless, people of no importance to society or the market.
In the 20th and previous centuries, the main struggle was exploitation, a small elite exploiting the masses. But in the future the main struggle will be that of irrelevance, the elite will no longer need you, there will be nothing to make you economically or politically useful. That will be a much harder struggle than exploitation, especially psychologically, the fact that you are no longer needed by the world because the world has passed you by is scary. When you are exploited, the elite still need you, you are of value to them, you are an important part of the system, and you have potential power, but you are no longer powerful once you are out of the economic cycle.
How long do you think our cinema popcorn supplier can survive when we’ve all happily found our comfort in OTT platforms? Do you know what your local fish supplier is doing now? Do you think your neighborhood auto-rickshaw driver who used to offer a free ride can do anything other than drive? Do you know that the machine can now understand natural language and when you call the customer service line of your mobile service provider, a machine can help you much better than a human employee?
The growth of AI will affect us all and our skills will soon be redundant. You may argue that humanity has faced such insecurities in the past and we will overcome this, but this time it is different, the machine and technology we have created now can replace us and do a better job than us, moreover, it can improve itself and create more of itself with minimal assistance from humans. This is something that has never happened in the history of mankind. We were the decision-makers in all the advances we had, and we boasted that this was a uniquely human trait, but now we have a tool that can make better decisions than we can, something that can know us better than we know ourselves.
Every job is replaceable by AI, doctors, engineers, financiers, insurance agents, designers, chefs, customer service, law enforcement, farmers, the list goes on and on. Learning a new skill is easy when you are young, but it will be very difficult for older members of our society. We will have to strategize individually and in groups to plan a way forward and survive, otherwise, most of our society will become irrelevant and die out within our lifetime.
Historian Yuval Noah Harari (author of ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ ) and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman are the two important academics who have raised these issues more frequently since the outbreak of COVID and I would suggest you visit the youtube page of Yuval Noah Harari to read in-depth about the problem and form your own opinion about it. Futurist Jaque Jacque Fresco has been talking about this phase of human evolution for decades and he proposes a solution to the problem through a resource-based economy, you can visit the link below to learn more.
Link to Yuval Noah Harari’s youtube channel:
Link to Jaque Jacque Fresco’s website