- It will soon be obvious that half our tasks can be done better at almost no cost by AI. This will be the fastest transition humankind has experienced, and we’re not ready for it.
- First, China has a huge army of young people coming into AI. Over the past decade, the number of AI publications by Chinese authors has doubled. Young AI engineers from Face++, a Chinese face-recognition startup, recently won first place in three computer-vision challenges—ahead of teams from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Carnegie Mellon University.
- Second, China has more data than the US—way more. Data is what makes AI go. A very good scientist with a ton of data will beat a super scientist with a modest amount of data.
- Third, Chinese AI companies have passed the copycat phase.
- And fourth, government policies are accelerating AI in China.
- Then there are the symbiotic optimists, who think that AI combined with humans should be better than either one alone. This will be true for certain professions—doctors, lawyers—but most jobs won’t fall in that category. Instead they are routine, single-domain jobs where AI excels over the human by a large margin.
- Others think we’ll be saved by a universal basic income. “Take the extra money made by AI and distribute it to the people who lost their jobs,” they say. “This additional income will help people find their new path, and replace other types of social welfare.” But UBI doesn’t address people’s loss of dignity or meet their need to feel useful. It’s just a convenient way for a beneficiary of the AI revolution to sit back and do nothing.
- These changes are coming, and we need to tell the truth and the whole truth. We need to find the jobs that AI can’t do and train people to do them. We need to reinvent education. These will be the best of times and the worst of times. If we act rationally and quickly, we can bask in what’s best rather than wallow in what’s worst.