“AI could replace almost all forms of labour”!

Sundar Pichal, CEO of Google believes AI will have a more profound impact on humanity than fire, electricity and the internet – it will fundamentally change how we live our lives, and will transform health care, education and manufacturing – and make humans much more productive

McKinsey say there’s little doubt that AI can help increase individual and workforce productivity – their research suggests it will automate up to 30% of business activities across occupations by 2030

And now, according to an article by Will Daniel in Fortune.com, former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, a professor at Harvard University and an OpenAI board member, goes further – he thinks AI could replace ‘almost all’ forms of labour – however, he adds a cautionary note: “Just don’t expect a productivity miracle anytime soon”

So, overall, the current ‘productivity puzzle’ may well be cracked by AI, albeit not in the very near future – however, another equally important puzzle may then follow in its wake — what will most people do with their spare time if there’s no need to go to work, socialise there and be paid for their efforts? Mass boredom and no need for money?
Consider what Larry is reported to have said
Larry Summers, speaking at the Fortune Innovation Forum in Hong Kong, said: “The general rule with respect to technological innovation is that things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could.”

Unlike many proponents of AI, Summers thinks AI’s potential isn’t going to fully reveal itself anytime soon: “I don’t think that this is going to drive a productivity miracle in the next three to five years,” he said. “Crossing the last mile of technological development, when a revolutionary technology turns into something that the general public can use, usually takes longer than people hope.”

He cited what he termed the “productivity J curve,” arguing that realising productivity gains from a new idea takes years of investment, research and development.

“Think, for example, about autonomous vehicles. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of workers have for years been devoting themselves to autonomous vehicles…and as yet, there have been no chauffeurs or truck drivers or taxi drivers who have lost their job,” he said. “We’ve had a bunch of labour being devoted to autonomous vehicles, and no output that is measured in the statistics.”

But the OpenAI board director is far from being an AI sceptic.

“If one takes a view over the next generation, this could be the biggest thing that has happened in economic history since the Industrial Revolution,” he added. “This offers the prospect of not replacing some forms of human labour, but almost all forms of human labour.”

From building homes to making medical diagnoses, Summers predicted that AI will eventually be able to do nearly every human job, particularly white collar workers’ “cognitive labour.”

That will eventually make EQ, or emotional intelligence, more important than IQ.

“AI will substitute for a doctor making a difficult diagnosis…before it substitutes for a nurse’s ability to hold a patient’s hand when the patient is frightened,” he said.

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