The Fear of AI

The advances since I wrote one of the Navy’s first Artificial Intelligence programs — probably the very first such program — have been exponential.

Today, my program would only qualify as “weighted values” program, because it had no Feedback Loop or an AI Engine (Inference Engine). It was designed to take all of the usual data — training, armament, fuel load, overhaul schedule, etc. and tell a Destroyer Squadron Commander which ship to deploy on short notice if one of his ships had a problem in Vietnam. (As if he didn’t already know, intuitively!)

By the time I was a Core Adjunct Professor of Computer Science teaching Artificial Intelligence, the craft had vaulted into something special, like a program at La Guardian Airport the told Controllers which runways to close or open as storms rolled across that huge airport, I real time.

Modern AI is so much better still, and people like Bill Gates, Stephen Hawkins, and Elon Musk are expressing concern about the future of AI. They have a much better view of the situation, and they would say problem, and I have no opinion on their opinion but I just think it is inevitable.

If it is inevitable — and it is like nuclear proliferation and cloning, in fact all technology. Once identified and developed it will proliferate. My concern is much less technology, which is the concern of the above mention scions of technology, than the social impact which is much more immediate — the rapid loss of jobs and the potential for social unrest the could result.

A hotel in Japan has announced that upon opening, 90 % of employees will be Robots. Said Robots will check in the guests, take bags to the room, clean the rooms, deliver the Room Service meals…the hotel hopes to exceed the reported 90%. Here at home, hospitals are using food and medicine by Robots.

As this replacement of workers increases in an effort to get labor costs under control, a modern approximation of the Luddites will appear, in the form of Labor Unions trying to protect wages and benefits. At some point in each industry, the increasing manual labor cost curve crosses the decreasing Robot cost curve.

Workers usually equate their wages with their labor cost, but, depending on the business, total labor costs can be 140% of the wages. Medical benefits, retirement, replacements for sick leave and vacations, Workman’s Comp….the list of costs in addition to the wages just keep adding up.

Before we get to the fear about AI taking over the world, we may have awful social unrest as governments wrestle with fewer workers supporting growing unemployed.as I have remarked before, the Greeks had their own Robots — called “slaves” and few people actually worked, so they gathered at the Forum to discuss whatever Greeks discussed. (They then repaired to some neighbors home, where they lay on couches and drank wine mixed with water and were entertained by women of suspect repute. Actually they were more like Geisha. Who were more conversationalists than prostitutes…though some may have been both.)

Sounds like a winner to me!

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