Stop that or I’ll replace you with an AI

Posted: 05.17.17

Look at what you're doing not what the AIs are doing

Everyone who has heard of AI (which as you know was just invented a few weeks ago) is sounding the warning bells about how AI thingies will take over our jobs. To which I say, come and get it—and hurry. 

Look at what you do. How many repetitive tasks do you do a day, day after day. Do you enjoy that? Is that what you spent six to ten years in college for? When you write your memoir will you say, Every day after driving to work for an hour and half, I proudly scanned my email in box for two hours, and then gleefully went to, two back-to-back meetings, and finally took lunch where I spoke with my friends about the weather. Yes, your creativity is contributing immensely to the advancement of the human race, replace you with an AI— impossible, you’re way too valuable. 

The major difference between a robot, the best, most sophisticated and fastest robot in the world and a human is imagination and curiosity. 

No inference engine, no matter how deeply well-trained it is, can imagine the impossible, the improbable, the unthinkable. Asimov’s Law of Robots forbids it for one thing, and The Fear of Flying (to paraphrase a metaphor about fearing the unknown) is the other. 

But robots can, and should, do the stupid mindless, routine things we do. And of course they will do them better and faster. It’s your imagination that makes you fail at repetitive tasks, your brain gets distracted when it’s not being used—that’s called day-dreaming, and believe it or not, it’s a good thing to do. 

Too many people try to shut off their day-dreaming, either because disturbing thoughts creep in, or they were trained, an idle mind is the devil's playground. Many people, especially the younger ones are petrified with fear of not having constant input, and so they engage in mindless activities to keep themselves from having the feeling of being alone. The great scientist, artists, and writers, all who had bouts of fear and depression, nonetheless could not have accomplished what they did if they couldn’t have isolated themselves from the noise. 

There’s a great line in the movie I, Robot. Detective Spooner, played by Will Smith, is questioning Sonny, the main character robot, about a murder. “Can a robot write a symphony?” asks Spooner. “Can a robot turn a canvas into a beautiful masterpiece?” Sonny looks him in the eye and asks, “Can you?” 

An AI could not write this essay. 

An AI can drive my car, read and sort my email, and beat me in FO4. An AI can pilot a space ship on a long journey, operate, or at least guide the operation of a routine surgery, diagnose an x-ray of a broken tibula, and correctly identify a cat. 

Now if your job was any of those thing, and you were unsure of your contribution, creativity, or intelligence, you’d feel threatened by AI—maybe you should. 

There was an award-winning TV show in 2015 called HUM∀NS and in one of the opening scenes, a group of anti-robot protesters are shouting, “Stop robots from taking our jobs.” A pro-robot group shouted back, “Stop doing robotic jobs.” And that is the gist of the whole discussion on AI. 

AI is not threatening anything but mediocracy and mindless repetitious ac¬tivity—that’s all AI is capable of. AI’s can’t think, can’t imagine, and can’t truly create. They can be very clever mimics, but then so can you, me, or my dog. 

Your fear of AI isn’t about AI, it’s about you.