Today's blog is a continuation of a past post (Sustainability) about humanity and artificial intelligence. I have reflected on the subject and have a few new insights to offer. Read on...
We Need a Purpose
As artificial intelligence advances, corporations and the media warn us that we need to prepare for the upcoming joblessness (how?) and consider the effects on our children (when?) because this revolution is unstoppable (why?). We tend to not hear about the racism and sexism that could come with it.
My comments on these questions:
Why is it unstoppable? Greed. Wealthy individuals (or wealthy corporations) are financing its development because it will enable them to acquire more wealth. Of course, through clever marketing and media, they are getting the general public excited (or terrified).
When will our children be affected? Who knows. Statements like these condition us to believe that this revolution is unstoppable, all while generating fear. If we are afraid for our children, we will be motivated to integrate them rather than addressing the concerns at the root.
How do we prepare for the upcoming joblessness? Oh, don't worry, we'll just figure it out as it hits. No problem. If the projections are accurate, no government will be able to support the upcoming joblessness. A significant percentage of the population will require temporary-to-permanent welfare while we find solutions. Because it is apparently too much work to prepare people's families with a solution before a problem hits.
I have read many articles throughout the years that proclaim automation and artificial intelligence are good things because they free us up to perform higher and more important tasks. What if – big if – people are happy doing their current tasks and jobs, or could be made happier?
It has been observed already that automation creates boredom and purposelessness. The trajectory forecasted by the wealthy brethren is not supported by any current experience or research.
People need purpose. They often find purpose through work. It is a fallacy to believe that displacing jobs will lead to a good societal outcome; it is similar to outsourcing, but the jobs will never come back. Every technology increases our dependency on it.
Instead of automating jobs out of existence, what if the end-game of employment was to provide people with the ability to find their purpose and excel at it? Doesn't that make more cents than dollars? (I am allowed a bad pun once in awhile!)
crapital (n): wealth in the form of money or assets that is not tied to a societal or environmental benefit; frequently used to control or abuse people while telling them it is good for them.
I frequently receive e-mails from funding / tech. startup / investing / etc. companies. The ones that are not aligned to social-, impact-, or triple-bottom-line companies frequently tout how much crapital is being raised for artificial intelligence. As far as I can tell, they are still holding their breath for the AI unicorn: the holy grail of crapital.
It is amusing for me to recount one meeting I had with a conventional (single-bottom-line) investor. I appreciated this individual's insights and comments, but one statement threw me. This individual told me that if I was in their firm's portfolio, I would likely be sued for not maximizing their financial return. Triple-bottom-line companies and single-bottom-line investors are like oil and water.
Can you imagine if our economy was tied to environmental stewardship or societal happiness? What if an investor told me that I would be sued if Shift Sight is not maximizing its efforts to save the planet or help people? It sounds insane, yet that is precisely where we should be moving.
It's funny how you never hear about artificial intelligence replacing investors, since it seems like such an obvious choice. When you have crapital and control, you somehow choose to keep your job while telling everyone else it will be great when they lose theirs. Oops.
Venture capital, which is generally not compatible with triple-bottom-line companies (sadly), is being rattled by very non-traditional individuals like Arlan Hamilton. With an increasing amount of women leaders and women investors, there may yet be a push away from crapital. I am supportive and hopeful.
You're Being Irrational!
This statement is categorically true. I have written many times in the past that humans do not make rational decisions; we make emotional decisions, guided by the particular lifelong events that have shaped our brains, and then sprinkle our rationalizations on top of our viewpoint to make it appear objective. (This is why two people with opposing viewpoints can both be correct and still argue all day.)
Ironically, we should have more neuroscientists guiding AI, as they understand these biases. We have individuals with lots of crapital that have rationalized how AI will help all of us (while not mentioning that their job is easily replaceable by AI). They then use their crapital and platform to spread their word.
However, we do not see a happy scenario playing out in China where AI is much more widespread. China has outright physical AI controls on their citizens; locally, we are psychologically manipulated by AI at corporations to do what they want: buy this thing, go to this place, etc.
One thing is clear: those with crapital are frequently unaware of their biases.
If you want to understand biases a bit, consider when you approach your boss about a difficult subject. Do you wait until they have had a nice meal and appear happy? It seems that they will be more receptive to hearing your "rational" request, right? However, most of the day, we are oblivious to how we are influenced by our own mood: this requires real-time, continuous observation of ourselves. This is not a failing, but by design. These observations require a tremendous amount of calories and mental energy.
My bad pun last week was the blog title ("Visual Acuity") against the company name ("Shift Sight"). They both can be twisted to describe one thing: can you see what you want in life?
I believe that our highest individual purpose is to help others find their way. To recognize that just because two individuals are not on the same path does not mean that either of them is lost. Or, if you like, consider the teacher that sets out to educate and instead ends up learning from the students. Perhaps AI will help us get there, but finding individual purpose is not profitable and therefore not in the best interest of the bearers of crapital.
Shift Sight is Teal. We place human needs above crapital. Full-blown AI poses to be de-skilling and de-purposing, environmentally damaging, and an unsustainable future.
One individual can bring a healthy future. Will it be you?
See you next week!
Ty is a Founder of Shift Sight, LLC.