Technological Progress ≠ Societal Progress
Why I am not super excited about AI
AI is an exciting technology. With the progress of companies like OpenAI, Midjourney, and even Microsoft, leveraging AI has never been easier, and the outcome has never been more powerful. Yes, I am interested to see where a world goes with this type of technology at our fingertips. With that said, I am not as excited as most others in tech. The reason isn’t baked in some worry that AI will take over the world one day, but moreso baked in the question of “is this really the most important thing humans could be working on right now”? And did the world really ask for this technology or was it forced on us by Silicon Valley over the prior few decades?
I look at AI as an optimizer. It will optimize the human condition. It will make us faster, smarter, and better at nearly every task that we wish to accomplish. We will get a day’s worth of work done in 2 hours. We will solve medical issues that we couldn’t have without AI. We will be more productive than ever before and have more time to do what we love. But I can’t help to ask, does anyone want this other than Silicon Valley, and the influence it casts over the world?
The USA has problems that AI will never be able to touch. Most hate the 1%, which means hating the American Dream. Our two primary political parties are incompetent and rarely compromise, when compromise is the very thing this country needs. Poverty is running rampant due to inflation (among other things) all across the country. Suicide rates among our youth are up. Obesity is up. And what happens when automation comes at a higher rate? Even more people will hate the hate sector, making it harder for the good guys and gals to win. We have human problems here. And if AI is simply a better solution than human judgement, what does that say for the collective pursuit of progress for our whole species?
Look, this isn’t a “woe is me” post. Things in the USA and in the world and vastly better now than they were 100 years ago. It’s just, I think working on AI is avoiding the actual “soft” problems we need to solve as a society that impact people. We need to be thinking about technology that improves the human condition in relation to other humans, not in relation to other machines. And if AI is the next big technology boom, all the smartest people will work on that. And that just feels like a missed opportunity to improve the real world, where humans struggle to get by. And I just have a hard time believing AI is going to be the savior.
I could be wrong, but I just think our tech will get better but the average human condition will decline. Oh well, maybe we just need to wait for another few years for Silicon Valley to get excited about the next thing, and I hope that whatever that thing is, it has more empathy towards the average lived experience of a human in the United States of America and across the world.
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