AI, the great equalizer

Many people fear that AI will replace workers and will be used to surveil, control, or even kill people.

As Geoffrey Hinton, the “godfather of AI” and the inventor of many of the techniques used in generative AI says, fears that AI will be used to spread disinformation and to make the rich even richer.

Those are all valid concerns.

But there’s a huge potential upside to AI that left-leaning people especially should appreciate.

If AI surpasses human-level performance on most skills — which seems likely to happen — this will require a radical restructuring of our economy and society to make sure that people don’t starve to death. Socialism and redistribution of wealth will become necessities that even Republicans will have to accept.

Furthermore, until now, humanity has been divided into winners and losers. Some people are better than others at sports, at math, at music, at fighting, at entrepreneurship, at programming, at writing, or at a myriad of other skills. In the not-too-distant future it is likely that everyone will be bested by AI in all those skills. This is already happening in the realm of art and image generation. It seems inevitable that it will happen in other fields.

Imagine a future in which AI surpasses humans at musical composition, at literature, at engineering, at math, at dance, and at scientific discovery. I believe it is coming.

Such a future will be a great equalizer. No longer will some people feel superior to others and feel worthy of being rewarded with more money, power, and adulation. Instead, everyone will be inferior to the AI programs that run society. Truly, all the important work and thinking will be done by AI and robots.

Humans will be able to just sit back and enjoy life: food, dance, procreation, exercise, and entertainment (with robots or virtual actors performing AI-generated content).

Humans will be forced to have the proper humility. Hierarchy will be dismantled.

Of course, unless the AI programs that run society are programmed to have our best interests in mind, an AI-driven world will instead be a dystopia.

There is, however, another possible future for the relation between AI and humans.   I is possible that people and AI will  merge, via direct neural connections, or via immersive virtual reality headsets.  In either case, AI would not be our masters. Rather, we would be enhanced by AI: smarter, more knowledgeable, and more inter-connected.  Political questions of who controls things will still remain.