It’s hard to not hearing about AI taking over everything – first, the jobs, and then, all humanity – these days. Set aside a few minutes and read this piece by Kai-Fu Lee, one of the most respected
I quoted the inspiration for today’s “drawing” below.
Love is what is missing from machines. That’s why we must pair up with them, to leaven their powers with what only we humans can provide. Your future AI diagnostic tool may well be 10 times more accurate than human doctors, but patients will not want a cold pronouncement from the tool: “You have fourth stage lymphoma and a 70 percent likelihood of dying within five years.” That in itself would be harmful. Patients would benefit, in health and heart, from a “doctor of love” who will spend as much time as the patient needs, always be available to discuss their case, and who will even visit the patients at home. This doctor might encourage us by sharing stories such as, “Kai-Fu had the same lymphoma, and he survived, so you can too.” This kind of “doctor of love” would not only make us feel better and give us greater confidence, but would also trigger a placebo effect that would increase our likelihood of recuperation. Meanwhile, the AI tool would watch the Q&A between the “doctor of love” and the patient carefully, and then optimize the treatment. If scaled across the world, the number of “doctors of love” would greatly outnumber today’s doctors.
The same idea could apply to lawyers, teachers, accountants, and wedding planners. In innumerable instances, excellent AI tools may emerge, but the “human-to-human” interface is critical to ensuring we feel listened to and cared for when we encounter important life events. We should encourage more people to go into service careers, choosing the ones into which they can pour their hearts and souls, spreading their love and experiences—whether as a passionate tour guide, an attentive concierge, a funny bartender, an infectious hair dresser, or an innovative sushi chef.
We should also work hard to invent new service jobs that deliver joy and love. Imagine a nutritional chef who comes to your home to cook only with fresh, organic, local ingredients. Or perhaps the “season changer” who changes and redecorates your closets seasonally, with flowers and aromas that make changing clothes a fun experience. Or perhaps an “elderly companion” who takes your aging parents to see a “doctor of love” when you cannot.
There will also be a big demand for social workers who answer the hotlines for displaced workers, dealing with their depression and anxiety. Volunteering service jobs today may turn into real jobs of the future—that of assisting at a blood bank, teaching at an orphanage, mentoring at Scouts organizations, or being a sponsor at AA or the Veterans Recruitment Appointment. Each of these jobs will deliver love and empathy—and there will be so many that we can replace many, if not all, of that 50 percent loss that comes from automation. Most importantly, the people filling these new jobs will fill our planet with love and joy.
So, this is the alternate ending to the narrative of AI dystopia. An ending in which AI performs the bulk of repetitive jobs, but the gap is filled by opportunities that require our humanity.
Can I guarantee that scientists in the future will never make the breakthroughs that will lead to the kind of general-intelligence computer capabilities that might truly threaten us? Not absolutely. But I think that the real danger is not that such a scenario will happen, but that we won’t embrace the option to double down on humanity while also using AI to improve our lives. This decision is ultimately up to us: Whatever we choose may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we choose a world in which we are fully replaceable by machines, whether it happens or not, we are surrendering our humanity and our pursuit for meaning. If everyone capitulates, our humanity will come to an end.
Kai-Fu Lee (2017).
Such a capitulation is not only premature and unproven, but also irresponsible to our legacy, our ancestors, and our maker. On the other hand, if we choose to pursue our humanity, and even if the improbable happen and machines truly replace us, we can then capitulate knowing that we did the responsible thing, and that we had fun doing it. We will have no regrets over how we lived.
I do not think the day will ever come—unless we foolishly make it happen ourselves. Let us choose to let machines be machines, and let humans be humans. Let us choose to use our machines, and love one another.