Rosy: Are people really afraid of artificial intelligence and robots?
Pierre: Yes ! Numerous studies prove it. …
Pierre: In fact, two main points fuel the fear of AI:
First, the fear of the robots who will take our work.
And, in the long-term, will robots destroy or dominate the human being In the not too distant future.
Rosy: Yes, the digital transformation can frighten more than one, indeed …
Pierre: Effectively ! And it’s naturally human! The fear of change is old as the world we could say. All previous industrial revolutions have given rise to mistrust and fear.
Rosy: So, how can our new digital era differentiate, or not, from previous industrial revolutions?
Pierre: Precisely, the current digital transformation can be differentiated from the previous economic transformations by the fact that it follows them up!
Rosy: … That means?…
Pierre: Well. Let’s take an example … Let’s try to imagine the game of building a pyramid with glasses of champagne. A row, two rows, a third … we fill our rows of champagne … At first, no problem, the balance is stable … but at the end, for example, after the accumulation in height of ten rows, all can collapse at any time, right?
Rosy: Yes, indeed!
Pierre: Well, so here, our tenth row jeopardizes the balance of the whole edifice that had been elaborated before, simply because this new row comes after all the others! With our new digital economic revolution, it’s the same thing! This one comes after many previous transformations, major or minor, that have already seriously damaged jobs. Taylorism first, then Fordism followed by the Toyotism, gradually increased productivity while transforming deeply the organization of work. So, for a long time, the machines have already changed the structure of work and rarefied it! And another big row has also been added, as with our glass pyramid, which can be called: globalization. Work without sharp skills shifted from so-called rich countries to emerging or underdeveloped countries. Unemployment has thus become increasingly important in our « rich » countries. To this, we add the layer of global deregulation with its important corollary: the financialization of the economy. The financial crisis of 2008 is one of the glaring proofs! Investments have tended to shift towards speculation and short-term profitability rather than towards longer-term investment in the « real » economy. And when business investment takes place, the dictates of increasing profitability (today many investments seek 15% of profitability in the short or medium term, whereas historically, in our modern industrial societies, the rate of profitability had always been around 5%), the dictates of high profitability « right away », brings about a lot of restructuring of enterprises and thus an enormous amount of job destroyed.
Rosy: And what about the robots then?
Pierre: Well, you have understood … add the layer « the robots will again eliminate a lot of jobs », after all the other previous destructive layers of work, so there, it is the drop of champagne that overflows the vase … or rather who made the pyramid collapse!
Rosy: Many experts, yet, say that future automation due to robotics and artificial intelligence will be, like the previous transformations, a process of creative destruction…
Pierre: Yes, indeed … couple of serious studies have already been done on this subject… and their results give completely opposite conclusions according to the study you are considering! Some predict the apocalypse, an increasingly rare work in the near future and others conclude that jobs lost will be compensated by new ones created by the digital transformation.
Source: Condé Nast Collection
Rosy: What does that mean then?
Pierre: In my humble opinion, as Mulder would say (lol!), The truth is out there! 🙂
Pierre: Yes. Both types of conclusions make sense. Simply, the new jobs that will be created will be highly skilled jobs. The current unskilled staff will actually lose their jobs. It is advocated by the proponents of creative destruction, to train this low-skilled workers to the new jobs to come … even if this is done, in any case, maintenance or management of a robot machine will need for example one person while the robot replaced six workers! … so we are left with the impression that the results have fallen short of expectations…
Rosy: So, the fear of robots taking our jobs is justified!?
Pierre: No, not precisely… The point I wanted to reach and which remains the most important and critical key, is: the political will. When I say « political », with goverments policies, it also includes future economic policies organized by economic decision-makers.
Rosy: So the « regtech », as we say today, would be the key?
Pierre: Yes! I think so! One of the keys…
Rosy: Explain your thoughts please…
Pierre: To overcome the obvious gross negative delta between destroyed jobs and new ones, our decision makers, politicians and business makers, will have to colaborate to create a new tech-social-economic ecosystem, with its new rules that will drive the new investments -private and public-, to manage the digital economic transformation (the « regtech » is so nothing but the regulation of the new digital paradigm).
Rosy: Are there some possible ways for this regulation to avoid an increased employment crisis?
Pierre: Yes. It seems obvious that we will have to focus on new economic and social sectors that are not being exploited today, in order to avoid a widespread global social crisis.
Rosy: Tell us more…
Pierre: The ecological transition for example. With the help of AI and Machine Learning, we already know that we can better fight against global warming and climate change. By investing heavily in the so-called « green » sector, we will compensate all or part of the lost jobs due to robots and all forms of artificial intelligences entities.
Rosy: Other insights?
Pierre: The welfare of humanity … ¾ people of our planet live in very limited or downright deplorable conditions!
Pierre: Well, I think we « really » have to decide to develop those countries, African and Asian in particular, who live in deplorable social conditions for the vast majority of their citizens…
Rosy: Okay… But how?
Pierre: By a « winner-winner » system, as my friend Maria Johnsen (an excellent expert on AI issues, who has a very wise perspective on the subject) has already pointed out to me . Yes: winner-winner! For example, economically, developing these « poor » countries will bring new economic markets. Robots will build new infrastructures (and cherry on the cake people and animals won’t do the physically hardest works anymore) and this will improve people’s lives while the population will have to be trained to become self-sufficient and able to manage their own technical and economic system. This creates a « human » ecosystem that is also profitable for everyone, because let’s not forget, for example, the population of Africa is now 1.2 billion and it will increase very substantially in the near future!
Rosy: Nice … a conclusion now?
Pierre: Many other sustainable development paths associated with AI can easily be imagined… we just have to be innovative…
And, finally, I would like to insist on the important point that everyone will win, the human, the earth, the animal welfare too, just if we decide to put the AI and the robots at the service, therefore, (in addition, evidently, to profitability) of social and ecological progress, so basically, at the service of humanism. This will create many new jobs and new profits, while safeguarding the welfare of humanity.
Rosy: Do you really believe that?
Pierre: That’s another problem … but… I want to believe! 🙂
Rosy: Thank you, Pierre. We will discuss about the fear of robots that will destroy the human species in our next interview, okay?
Pierre: Fine Rosy! Thank you and good day to all … and I think that after our little discussion, you understand the future of work problematic a little better now … finally… do not forget … The Truth Is Out There!
Note: The original interview has been performed in French and will be publish in original language soon 🙂