According to Frederick Kile in his article “Artifical Intelligence and Society: A furitive transformation” AI has many more applications and consequences than merely being a humanlike chatbot. The most significant consequence of current and developing technology, regardless of AI, is the displacement of employment. As machines automate jobs, an increasing number of people are being forced to conduct longer and longer levels of schooling to gain transferable skills in the job market, else brave unemployment.Historically farming, for instance, has ‘occupied the vast majority of the world’s population’, and now most employees have been replaced by machinery. With automated, smart machines taking over the work of people, where is this workforce intended to go?
One of the greatest threats of the future according to Kile is that the automation and machine-aided thinking (AMAT) and advancements into AI will change society so suddenly that it will cause mass idleness, a symptom that is cited to be one of the major factors for ‘strife, rebellion, and wars’. War itself will escalate and the brutality that an AI system would have in war would be devastating.
As Kile points out, each technological leap in history has pushed people further and further away from the carnage. With AI, accountability would be null, and as a consequence violence will escalate, just as violence escalated with the introduction of drone-attacks.
Scientists and engineers are not even safe from the displacement caused by AMAT and, in the future, AI, as these technologies will allow fewer and fewer people to accomplish more things. Not educating children about coding and computers is an assured decision for their unemployment and, as Kile notes, the only way to combat a technologically illiterate society is to increase ‘total global production’.
This response, however, will accelerate the further destruction of our ecosystems. The total ramifications technology has on our future requires mass in-depth studies, and appropriate measures to ensure our, and Earth’s, survival is imperative. The simplest measure we can take against an idle, consuming society is to prepare ourselves for a workforce entirely set on the digital realm.
That isn’t to say that technological improvements are necessarily going to destroy us. Individually most inventions are for the betterment of mankind. In light of this, it could be argued that having more people creating programs will reinvest in an open market, and encourage global competition.
This competition will, ideally, negate the effects of mass idleness and spare us the global strife that would surely be our downfall. However, as previously stated, the smarter and better we make our computers and our programs, the less people are needed to maintain them.
If a true AI is created it will learn and inevitably outpace and outsmart humanity. Even with the assumption that the AI will only ever be used for the betterment of all mankind, rather than cater to nationalistic tendencies, there is still the risk of the AI (or many) replacing even digitally competent individuals.
The marketable skill then would be human ingenuity and creativity. As we create machines to replace us, we must transcend them.