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Response to “Humans Need Not Apply”

June 14th, 2015

This is a response to:

While I watch the video I was much more excited than intimidated by all of the predicted advances in technology. However, I completely disagree with “Scary” message. Details that follow are roughly in order that I thought of them while watching the video.

This video is making a mistake to compare horses with humans. The main difference that they are lacking, is that horses are not consumers. The very fact that economies are driven by human being consumers means that these comparisons are not valid.

You might as well say you are comparing humans with horse drawn plows. No one is going to talk about how the horse drawn plow species is upset that no one uses them anymore.if a horse drawn plow is not needed, it sits in a shed and rests. If a human is not needed to do an unpleasant task, he will simply find another way to be useful. This is something that neither horses or their plows have mastered.

No, the real challenge is not what will all of these people be doing if they’re not doing menial labor, the question is: how will we improve our education process to elevate the average human to the standpoint that they are ready to do a job that uses the full range of their intelligence.

No more will kids be able to grow up and if they don’t “like school” then they can just work fast food or construction. So what we will all solve, because we have to, is how we can better and more efficiently help all humans unlock their mental potential.

New and evolving fields like computer programming, and in-game programming have shown that to do higher level mental work does not take years of higher level education, but simply letting people play games, discover the best way that their minds perceive and enjoy solving problems. People in these new jobs, will find that 8 years of education is completely wasted, mostly because a large portion of the education will be eight years old by the time they are done. With faster changing things that people need to know, we will need to find a way to educate people at the same speed. We will likely discover that the one-curriculum-fits-all of the past and present is completely inadequate.

The argument that bots will eventually write newspaper articles, quarterly reports, common software programming, is absolutely true. However, the very purpose of most economical effort, is to find that “new thing” that isn’t being done yet. In a word: innovation. This may be an effort to bring to consumers that new style of clothing, that new social media technology, or (ironically) that new Bot automation solution that makes our lives so much easier.

Video seems to purport that at some point we will have “arrived” and that all this new Bot technology will have been created, and that all of a sudden people are effectively obsolete. What it doesn’t illustrate is that humans are in an infinite iterating cycle of improving quality of life and seeking new ways to express themselves. We are always throwing out the old and looking for that new amazing thing. So, at what point do we arrive and feel that all there is left to do is accept our welfare check and watch another re-run on TV?

So, after we have followed this iteration and improvement process so far down the road, what will we be doing the next? Just think, what things you would you be doing if they were not completely impractical? How about travel to other planets? Science is a never ending road. More time in personal development, such as writing books, not for need to be employed, but to enrich your own life and understand yourself in greater depth. Which, by the way and also solves the original problem, and that of how do we get all of these humans prepared to do jobs which require them to use their brains on a high-level?

I am sorry, but the part of the video about bots replacing doctors, is simply ludicrous. Bots and computers will, do all the things he mentions, including improving accuracy of diagnoses, allowing patients to self diagnose, and reduce accidental medical problems. But, there is still The aspect of conscience and complex moral decision making which doctors will need to continue to be used for. Medicine is based on new medications and procedures, all of which have risk as they need to be performed in trials on human patients. These all require human conscience to govern how far is too far.

Yes, certain professions including doctors, construction work, manual labor, software coding, etc. will see changes that will make all of the inconvenient parts of their jobs removed. This will have the effect that more work can be done by fewer people. And what will happen to all of the other people? They will move on to the remaining problems that no one has had time to look at yet.

My wife once asked me, “you have work been working on the same software project for years, you think by now that you would have fixed all the bugs.” I smiled, and explained that the faster we fix bugs, then it only unties the business to come up with new features, new ideas, staying that much further ahead on their goals, and hitting new markets. This also generates many many, MANY more bugs to fix. This video is stuck in this mindset of, “what if all of the bots fix all of the bugs? What will we do then?” Business in my example is exactly the same as the always-evolving, never-satisfied need for humans to evolve and change.

The part in the video about how bots will even do our creative and artistic work, is him just taking it to extremes for no point. I remember the day when I discovered Mandelbrot fractals and spent (nearly) days exploring and zooming into the infinite complexity and beauty. That, is in a sense what he is talking about: Computer generated beauty.

But, even though it is amazing, and I never see the end of its infinite variations, after a while my highly evolved human brain realizes that this is all kind of just more of the same. When bots start generating the theoretically-infinite music and movie concoctions, we would indefinitely arrive at the point where we had the same conclusion: we can tell the difference. And then bot-created content would devolve back to a percentage of the content consumed by humans.

The inescapable fact about art and creativity, is that much of it, is an experiment and an adventure exploring “the human condition”. When they find a way to not only convince people that “the bot condition” is good enough, or that humans simply don’t feel that they need to express themselves, then it is officially time for another group of beings to take over this planet from us.

In summary, I believe there is a challenge, not necessarily a problem with this fast increase in technology. The biggest challenge, one that people may not want to embrace, is that being stupid is now an offense punishable by unemployment. You’re no longer allowed to go and do your lame job, and go home, drink beer, and scratch yourself.

This evolution may arrive at generations, or half-generations at least, of people who will, alarmingly, find themselves behind the technology learning curve. It used to be that your grandpa would make remarks like “you young whippersnapper’s with your fancy technology and devices”. Well, that will turn into, “I haven’t been following up on the latest technology in the last 5 years, and these new Coding frameworks are completely foreign to me”.

My prediction, is that pursuits that are purely non-intellectual, like watching sports, or maintaining cars and yards, will be replaced with other more mind-developing activities like videogames and puzzle solving. These new activities will come to feel “normal” for everyone to do, and socially acceptable. Furthermore, they will of their very nature be part of our mental education which is always on going.

The time in which these generational changes happen, will likely come too fast for some. However, with the increase in technology adoption in our lives, will also come an increase in speed at which we are used to things changing. In short, we will adapt to the new pace.

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