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Turns Out, Computers Are Not Vacuuming Up All Our Jobs

Far from it, we can hardly find all the people we need to manage the computers

Let’s start with radiologists:

In 2016 Turing Award Winner Geoffrey Hinton advised that “We should stop training radiologists now. It’s just completely obvious that within five years, deep learning is going to do better than radiologists.” Six years later, the number of radiologists has gone up, not down. Researchers have spent billions of dollars working on thousands of radiology image-recognition algorithms that are not as good as human radiologists.

Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith, “The right and wrong way to use artificial intelligence” at New York Daily News (August 6, 2022)

Technology researcher Jeffrey Funk and business prof Gary Smith could — and probably will — fill a book with examples, some of which they list and link to at New York Daily News. For sheer frustration, it’s hard to beat San Francisco’s AI taxi traffic jam. But fifteen billion wasted dollars later, IBM’s Watson flop in medicine is not just frustrating, it’s sobering.

Concept of robots replacing humans in offices
Not really…

Funk and Smith note,

We have argued for years that we should be developing AI that makes people more productive instead of trying to replace people. Computers have wondrous memories, make calculations that are lightning-fast and error-free, and are tireless, but humans have the real-world experience, common sense, wisdom and critical thinking skills that computers lack. Together, they can do more than either could do on their own.

Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith, “The right and wrong way to use artificial intelligence” at New York Daily News (August 6, 2022)

A real risk of “your job will soon die” prophecies about what AI can do — just around the corner — is AI winter: Billions lost later, disillusioned investors stop funding AI research.

In The Human Advantage: The Future of American Work in an Age of Smart Machines, Jay Richards argues that AI, by handling the drudgery quickly, enables us to do creative things we couldn’t do before due to time and cost issues. That raises the standard of living, which — in turn — creates new jobs and businesses in new markets. The jobs that disappear will be the drudgery no one aspired to do.

For example, if we go back to the radiologists for a moment, as Funk and Smith recount, a program that combined the efforts of AI and radiologists produced better results than either had done alone. As the worldwide demand for medical care increases, due to rising living standards and life expectancy, we will need those extra radiologists, especially for the puzzling, difficult cases.


You may also wish to read: A Great Reset historian muses on what to do with “useless” people in a digital age. Transhumanist Yuval Noah Harari , a key advisor to the World Economic Forum, thinks free will is “dangerous” and a “myth.” It’s not clear that, given his intense, dramatic focus on “useless,” “meaningless,” and “worthless” people, Harari is far off from totalitarianism.


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Turns Out, Computers Are Not Vacuuming Up All Our Jobs