Is AI good or Bad?

I wrote some computer software in the 1980s for Computer Aided Design, that automated many tasks. As a result, architects and engineers were able to produce drawings 10x faster and more accurately than ever before. People were afraid that this was going to cause the designs to be very “machine-like,” lacking any creativity. There were also afraid that it was going to displace thousands of jobs. But the opposite happened: jobs were not replaced – they were created! And designers got more creative, coming up with ideas that previously were difficult to show, especially in 3D.
I firmly believe the same thing is going to happen with AI. Smart entrepreneurs are being given the chance of a lifetime to get in on the ground floor with AI.
While many technologists are spreading fear about AI and calling for it to slow down and/or be regulated, I really believe this is sending the wrong message. One critic even stated, AI is literally demonic. It should be banned. To make a thing that can pretend to be human well enough to fool humans – but it is not human. No soul, no emotion, no lived experience or memories – people will be eager to surrender their duties and responsibilities to these machines, and the machines will not be capable of ethics or morals. It has no will or spark of human truth in any communication it generates. The skills that humans possessed which were fed to these mineral creatures will degrade and wither and be lost arts. There’s no upside to creating this except small groups of people will make large amounts of money for a small amount of time.
That is a pretty dystopian way of looking at the future. But the news likes to sensationalize things, such as this article about IBM pausing hiring for jobs that can be done by AI. And Geoffrey Hinton quitting Google as he warns about the dangers of AI. (Note: Hinton is 75 and is retiring).
And then there is the now famous letter signed by Elon Musk and others calling for a halt on the development of AI. Some industry experts, like LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, claimed Musk’s signature on the letter is just jealousy. Musk left OpenAI in 2018, and Hoffman said Musk and others want the pause so they can catch up and offer their own AI products. Business Insider reports that Twitter, owned by Musk, is spending millions to get in on the generative AI boom and is looking to create an AI chatbot that will rival OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
Other AI experts say the technology will actually create a large number of employment opportunities. A World Economic Forum report states that 97 million new jobs will be created by 2025 due to AI and generate $15.7 trillion for the economy by 2030 while eliminating mundane tasks and helping workers enjoy more creativity. The question is no longer whether AI will change the workplace; it’s how companies can successfully use it in ways that enable – not replace – the human workforce. AI will help to make humans faster, more efficient, and more productive.
Will it be regulated? – you can count on it. Our governments like to regulate everything and the lawyers want it that way. And perhaps that is good, especially because like all tools that humans create, they are far from perfect especially in the early stage. There are certainly issues related to AIs “hallucinating” or making up facts. But tools are not inherently good or bad. A knife for example can be used to kill, cut food, or even remove cancer. It doesn’t have morality, it is how we use the knife that makes it good or bad. Learning how to use tools like AI to make our lives better seems like a much more productive way of looking at life than thinking we are all doomed.

I decided to create my own survey regarding how people felt about AI, by asking a single question:

On a scale of 1 to 10, How do you feel about the sudden rise of Artificial Intelligence?

0=Very Pessimistic: it is going to take jobs and threaten our security. I’m scared that it is already passing human performance and may endanger our very existence.

5=Neutral: I don’t know enough about how it works to know. It probably won’t affect the quality of our lives as its just another software tool that we will get used once the hype dies down.

10=Very Optimistic: it has the potential to bring tremendous benefits to society and create new opportunities. I’m excited to reap its rewards.

Here are the results:

graph showing survey results
Fifty five percent (55%) of the respondents answered with an 8 or above! Another 25% were a 5 or a 6. Only 20% of people seem to actually be scared of AI. The Median in this study was 8.5, and the Mean was 6.9. This shows that the overwhelming number of people are actually excited about the possibilities of AI, even though the news is reporting how scary it is and that we are all going to lose our jobs to robots.
The fact is, humans will need to up-skill. In all likelihood, AI will take over jobs that require copying, pasting, transcribing, and typing. As many as 375 million may need to switch occupational categories — some of which have not existed before — and learn new skills. In my career, I have had to re-invent myself multiple times. Being in the technology industry, things change frequently. The skills I was using in the 1980’s only served as building blocks for the skills I needed in the 1990’s, and the skills I used in the 1990’s were no longer relevant in the 2000’s, and so on. Remember FrontPage, Flash, ColdFusion, Java and Frames? Technologies come and go, so if you are going to be relevant over multiple decades, you must remain current and continuously learn new skills.
Make no mistake: AI will replace jobs. But AI will not be able to replace human judgment. It is just the most recent manifestation of ongoing workplace evolution. Jobs will be replaced, but new ones are going to be created. You are going to have to gain new knowledge and proficiencies.
According to Zippia.com, in the U.S., about 47% of total employment is at risk of computerization, and workers have a high probability of seeing their jobs automated over the next 20 years. The solution, if you want to remain competitive, is to start learning new AI-related skills now.
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