The whole physical realm of humanity goes through iterative cycles. We improve, we make mistakes, we learn and we go forward.
The improvement is proven and makes absolute sense when viewing our limited existence as a collective whole. I have not gone back to hunting gathering days, and neither have my close friends and family. I do not have physical existential challenges (danger from nature, life threatnening diseases) as my ancestors.
We’ve improved by leaps and bounds in the past 5000 years of recorded history.
However, none of us like change when it knocks on our doors. We love to view the change happening to “inefficient others” –
- Cheaper clothes
- Faster, better, good looking cars
- Online utility bills
- Customer self service through intelligent, automated systems
But, seldom associate that to –
- Faster machines replacing humans
- Faster design process using efficient software, higher automation
- Replacement of the poor sod at the cash counter
- Replacement of the poor sod at the call center and “customer service” counters
In each of the above cases, the hapless humans may be you or me. There are hundreds and thousands of ways to interpret what is happening around us, but there is a common underlying theme.
The work is being commoditized or being automated.
Commoditized and automated are two different things, but the underlying theme basically is the same – there are cheaper or efficient (if not both) ways of getting things done. They are to be taken as a sign of changing times, which by no way should be considered evil.
(Or, I may have lied – it may be a bit evil. Don’t you watch the movies?)
Anywho, we will consider repurcussions of the bad AI later. To continue the train of thought that I had earlier – ws we move towards smarter machines, more novel ideas will present themselves for automation/commoditization.
So, what should the hitherto mentioned “poor sods” do? Should we be afraid of the future?Is humanity doomed in the all enlightened Watsons, Deep Minds and probably the Cortanas and Siris?
If you said “never”, and you should say “never” you dumb fellow, then congratulations – you represent all things human. The jobs created in the last hundred years, or the cubicles created in the last twenty years do not represent you and I.
The human spirit is being curious, finding the answer to the next big question and finding peace in the current moment. The world is a dizzyingly exciting puzzle of the physical, meta physical, philosophical, and everything in between.
What every human being has to do now is to just stop being afraid.
No matter what happens in the next two decades, and unless our worst dystopian nightmares come to life – we still do not go back to our hunter /gatherer days. Neither we need to start preparing our children to hunt deer, prepare for the next plague, or learn how to wield a knife properly (again, referring to the typical urban guys).
The need of the hour is to open the door to the change, give change an embarassing hand-shake and start dancing with it.
All you and I need to find is the small idea that can help us, and help others. And of course, it helps to follow that idea in action, continuously experiment through failures and successes, and persevere through all that.
Life is quite easy, boys and girls – go get that thing where you can create value yourself. The question that has to haunt you every moment of every day – “what did I do today that can help me in that pursuit”. Not each of those moments will be happy, I am sure, but all of them are well worth it.
It should never be a question of drifting to the next rotting branch, but to build a damn boat of all those branches and taking everyone and their dog for a ride (with all good intentions of course).