While it took in the Middle Ages, and even well after, two to three generations to experience a technological advance, the order of things has now accelerated extremely. In a lifetime, modern human beings will experience 3, 4 or even 5 major technological developments and live at the end of his life in a world he hadn't even imagined. How many of you have known the first steps of man on the Moon, the creation of the Internet, that of smartphones and now the creation of artificial intelligences. Did you think about this even 20 or 30 years ago?
It goes fast, very fast. And the man is not ready… or at least not all. All changes are scary, whatever they are. And artificial intelligences are no exception to the rule. We can even say that they exacerbate it in the sense that they are humanized. And the question that arises, which many people ask, is: should we be afraid of it or not? Do we have to have the chipsets?
Artificial intelligences will take our jobs! Yes and no.
This is an argument that is very often heard. And it is not new, far from it.
In the XNUMXth century, steam engines appeared. It was a huge upheaval. They were used, among other things, to create mechanical looms. And indeed, at first the craftsmen could not compete with these new devices. But this led to the creation of textile factories, the largest employer in France at the time. Then come the automobile factories, steel mills, the emergence of the middle class… What could be bad news at the origin, that is to say the replacement of a trade by machines has in effect. fact engendered a profound change in the organization of society. Have machines taken the place of man? No, on the contrary, they have created hundreds of thousands of jobs. Today we no longer deal with steam or electric machines, but with robots. Is there less employment for that? Absolutely not. In absolute terms, there have never been so many jobs as there are today. However, the distribution of this job is totally different and changes regularly.
In absolute terms, there have never been so many jobs as there are today.
Just as it took, during the Industrial Revolution, that the men and women of the time appropriate emerging techniques and technologies, it is exactly the same today. We will therefore have a significant search for qualified people with specific skills and alongside that unqualified sectors of activity with a surplus of applicants. New technologies and artificial intelligence will not kill jobs but will give rise to new demands on the market which, if they are not anticipated or chosen by the working population, will create a class of long-term unemployed and besides that a shortage of qualified workers, very well paid.
Why? Because most of the robots and AIs will perform repetitive, little or no qualified or very specific tasks. Despite everything, this represents a large part of the current positions. It has also started: a latest report from the OECD affirms that the arrival of AI and the development of robots will lead to the disappearance of 14% of jobs and the significant modification of 33% of others ... by 10 years ! And it also confirms that the jobs most affected will be low-skilled jobs. There will come a time when the creation of low-skilled trades (and not positions) will no longer make it possible to employ all the people seeking employment and who do not have the skills for the sectors which are recruiting. But at the same time, full of resources, man had thus developed in the twentieth and even more in the twenty-first century the service professions, which allowed the multiplication of jobs of various qualifications accessible to people who could not take the bends. technological and hyper-connected (personal assistance, home help, etc.). The man has therefore been able to change the labor market to stay active. And it will surely be the same with the next industrial revolution.
The OECD affirms that the arrival of AI and the development of robots will lead to the disappearance of 14% of jobs and the significant modification of 33% of others… within 10 years!
Another school exists for the future of human employment, a school that we could classify in the category of utopia. In this vision of the future, explained by the CNRS, machines and AIs, hyper evolved, will be the only ones to work. The non-standard yields will cause the taxes on profits to be redistributed to each inhabitant by the state. The men would therefore live on monthly aid. And there the utopia ends. Because how will this aid be determined? On the subsistence minimum? So men will not live, but will survive. On enough money to have a good life? But in this case, will the few rare owners of industries or the extra skilled workers accept to see the majority of their wealth go to support an idle population? Social disparities will be enormous.
There is an in-between. A society of robot and AI workers, but in which workers who are not very necessary, but overpaid, are kept, who will have no other role than to develop consumption and guarantee social peace. But this scenario, in the end, will amount to having very low paid workers and long-term unemployed, living through redistributions from the state. Which comes back to the first idea of the chapter.
So yes the AI will take our jobs and at the same time, other professions will be created, jobs that do not yet exist. Did the job of social media manager exist 15 years ago? And that of network moderator?
Artificial intelligences will go wild! Possible.
Maybe you saw ex-machina, a film in which an AI, capable of feelings and ultimately of consciousness, will try by all means to take its freedom? It is only one film among others (Real Humans, I-Robot…) in which AIs and robots interact with humans in a human way, becoming good… or bad. Because behind all this hides a real observation: AIs are more and more sophisticated, capable of self-learning and even of making AI girls learn. The film Matrix has been one of the most revealing of this fear: AIs and robots take power and enslave humans, too fragile, more intelligent enough to play a role in evolution. In Terminator, the AI are even desperate to prevent their reign from ending in the future. But this questioning is not new. In the movie Metropolis from 1927, the robot "Maria" emancipates itself from its creator to obey only itself.
AIs are more and more sophisticated, capable of self-learning and even of teaching girl AIs
The risk that many think of, because the easiest to imagine, is the loss of control of the AIs who, like in these films, go mad and turn on humans to ultimately manipulate or enslave them. But it can be less theatrical, but just as dangerous: an AI that manages the finances of a company, a country or a region and starts to make crazy decisions? This is partly already the case, AIs will soon better understand and anticipate speculative markets than humans, who will follow without understanding the decisions. And in case of error? Global crackdown, mass unemployment, disaster-stricken countries ...
Then ? S.-F. or reality? Well, know that industry stakeholders like Google DeepMind but also Oxford, CSER, EFF or Elon Musk take this fact very seriously. It must be said that there have already been shocks with Microsoft's AI "Tay" which has started to fart a circuit by turning sociopath. It all started off well. The AI responded to requests like a real human, also showed a sense of humor, but in less than 24 hours, it had to be deactivated after posting increasingly racist and sexist comments online. Other cases, a little less extreme, have also appeared, such as an AI preferring to pause a game until the end of time rather than seeing the message Game Over appear. How seriously is this taken? These companies are working on the development of a "kill switch", either in the form of a program that could be launched automatically if the AI goes too far (self-regulation) or, more likely, a "killer" program that can be activated humanely if necessary.
In a less telegenic register, AIs could also become tools of global hacking, a great threat of the XNUMXst century. A country which sees its communication network put out of service by small terrorist groups or cyber criminals is on its knees: no more decisions possible, no more information, no more army or security service. The use of AI by malicious people is a real risk, maybe even more likely than a racing AI and puts humans in the Matrix. Men have indeed shown countless times that the destruction of others is a goal in itself of the human species. Is it necessary to remember that AIs are already part of the package of the world's armies? At the moment, we are still in the early stages, more in the use of robots, drones and other unmanned machines than in autonomous combat combat units, making their own decisions. Besides, the ALPHA projects for air combat and MARVEN have already shown that it is only a matter of the year. SALA (Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems) are on the way, AIs will make decisions for the military when it comes to reacting extremely quickly or anticipating actions. But we come back to one of our problems: what to do if these systems are hacked? And we are not yet talking about human soldiers upgraded to AI and high tech. Transhumanism is our next chapter.
We will no longer be truly human! Yes and no
Will transhumanism become normal in a few years? The what ? But yes, you know, this movement advocating the use of science and technology to improve human, physical and intellectual performance.
What first comes to mind is mainly a physical improvement via implants in order to transform each individual into a superman, capable of extraordinary strength, endurance or skill. In principle, from this point of view, transhumans already exist: biomechanical implants and prostheses to replace a missing limb, artificial eye equipped with a video camera connected to the brain (under test), etc.
We are, at present, more on a palliative transhumanism than a proactive transhumanism. But it is fast approaching and a handful of insiders contribute largely such as Ray Kurzweil, chief engineer of Google, or Max More, president of a company whose goal is to cryogenize people waiting for the implementation. technologies necessary for their improvement. For them, humans and machines will reach such a point that the two cannot be differentiated. Man will turn into a machine and the machine into a cyborg. The avowed goal is to increase the lifespan of individuals, to cure all diseases, to make them capable of accomplishing anything, to increase their cognitive capacities ... They imagine the use of nanobots that can play the role of the immune system but also of artificial synapses. And this is where AIs are going to have an even bigger role to play. They would serve to improve the intellectual aptitudes of human beings via a kind of serial connection. Moreover, in 2016, a team of American researchers had succeeded in directly supplying data to a human brain to enable it to quickly acquire new knowledge. Oh yes…
You still have to weigh all this, these are just tests, the beginning ... but the information available shows that it is changing quickly, very quickly. We are at Google Glass, lenses connected to the internet, a kind of transhumanism by options, and maybe in a few years men will have a chip or nanorobots permanently to make them smarter, to bring them to the same level as machines. that they created.
Man will turn into a machine and the machine into a cyborg.
But this is not so simplistic. First of all, the human body is not easy to modify. While it is now possible to modify limbs and some organs, modifying the brain is another story, as its functioning is still poorly understood. To transform man into a superman is still too presumptuous given current knowledge and technological level. But this is not impossible because as we have seen, it has already started. So it's only a matter of time, anyway, for a number of improvements, before they are real. The ultimate goal would even be, for some, a transformation of their human consciousness into computer consciousness, separated from the body and therefore immortal (the book "Modified Carbon" explains this very well). But from there arises a new problem: financing. Considering the improvements envisaged, the possibilities offered, all this will be expensive, very expensive. Thus, potential transhumans will only be hand-picked people, extremely wealthy people. Most of the current members of transhumanist societies are wealthy businessmen, well-off families… And this will continue. The richest will have the means to improve themselves, to live longer and better, as well as a few specific castes (soldiers, experts, etc.), while the poorest will remain with their bodies of flesh and original blood. Social disparities will be even more exacerbated.