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November 12, 2018


Bud Byrd

I continue to harp on one great deficiency in the coming AI age. What about the workers ...workers who may be well educated but whose skills are no longer needed in the job market ...those who have few skills to compete with the relentless, AI empowered robot, thus left behind? I have no argument with those who see AI as a productivity bonanza for business, for the consumer. I do see a problem for those who may wish to be consumers, but who are left without a source of income when their current occupations and roles are displaced. How will they survive? At the macro-level, no issue, but in micro-circumstances, family disasters.

Key questions to ask while building AI include: Have you considered the societal and ethical implications?1

At least, PwC has mentioned the issue. Hopefully, future reports will dig deeper and offer solutions.

Business should not be compelled to formulate and implement education and training policy for our country. However, business and academia must partner with government and other societal institutions to effectuate policies that bring all workers to a level of sustainability.

How will all of us prosper in an environment wherein less skilled, repetitive work is eliminated? This is not just a ditch-diggers lament. The pharmacist, the speech writer, the academic, the doctor, the television news reader may find themselves displaced by an intelligent bot, an AI powered robot. Then all-hell will break loose.

At the moment, I suggest that most in professional positions see AI and robotics, automated cars and trucks, etc. as a non-threat, a threat only for those at the bottom of the work pyramid. Consequently, there seems little concern for extensive work and education policy. Corporations, probably government as well, go merrily charging into productivity and GDP nirvana while, without extensive thought and acknowledgement of the need for even more resources and actions to bridge us to this new world order.

Society is failing us. Even when AI utopia is reached, I fear that mass displacement will disrupt whatever achievement the technology will bring. Technology without bringing the masses along with it will lead us to decades of conflict and displacement. To limit this possibility, it is time for the big three: business, academia and government to form an alliance ...an axis of responsibility to plan for, solve and prevent this potential chaos.

Thank You, Irving. I very much appreciate your insightful writing.

1 2017 PwC Report: Sizing the prize; Subtitled: What's the real value of AI for your business and how can you capitalize

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