In Today’s Interview we talk Artificial Intelligence with Theoretical Physicist/Bodybuilder/Prehistoric Hunter, Professor M.
I would really like to thank you for coming in today Professor M. We are really humbled that you would take the time to meet with us. Especially on such short notice.
Actually, it took me about 3 months to get around to this.
Ummm,,,, I called you yesterday.
One of the many benefits of having a Time Machine my friend.
OK, my brain already hurts. Speaking of your Time Machine, where have you been lately?
Let me think… hmm… I met Queen Elizabeth yesterday, went spear hunting for mastodons the day before… Oh, and last week I especially enjoyed watching what I believe was the very first life-form on Earth come into existence… and briefly considered squishing it.
To see if it would wipe out all human civilization on that timeline.
Jesus! That’s kinda messed up.
I know, amazing what people consider doing when nobody’s there to stop them!
Time travel looks pretty entertaining, is there anything you don’t like about it?
Hmm,,, well it took me over 400 years to get to the gym this morning.
That does sound inconvenient.
Indeed… So, you asked me if I would pay attention to things in the past and future that had to do with wealth?
Yes I did, here at The Vow of Practicality we like to provide value to our readers, and your Time Machine has limitless potential.
Well, I was in the not too distant future recently and made some observations that you may want to be aware of.
And when you say not too distant?
Only 25 years from now.
Amazing… So how are things there… I mean then?
In a word… Robots. Lots and lots of robots.
Is that good or bad?
Splendid for some, not so great for others. To be clear, when I say robots I really mean Artificial Intelligence in general.
This is all very interesting Professor but what does this have to do with Personal Finance?
You aren’t grasping the enormity of the fiscal situation around Artificial Intelligence my friend. I am talking about incredibly advanced machine learning systems. Machines that learn faster than humans, work faster than humans, and never need to rest.
So are saying we will be competing with robots.
There is no competition, once robots are chosen to perform a certain job function, humans have no way of competing. Let me try to explain… what year is this again
Right,,, OK, so in 2017 you guys still have human cashiers in restaurants and grocery stores, etc.?
And you still have human delivery drivers and taxi services?
And new construction is still done by humans?
And lawyers and Doctors are mostly human, yes?
Yes… You aren’t implying that all those jobs are gone in 25 years are you?
Look, here’s the general rule of the future; anything that can be automated, will be automated. If you have a job that requires a routine task to be performed, you’re toast. If your only skill is making french fries or digging ditches you can be replaced for very little money in the future; it saves the company a fortune. As a matter of fact the disruption to society is going to be so pronounced that companies aren’t even referred to in that time period as “employers” anymore. If you think that’s bad, this whole thing is much more problematic for developing countries. The information age pulled these countries out of poverty, and the Machine Learning age pushes them back down.
But those countries don’t have much to start with, why would it affect them more than a developed one?
You see the people of developing countries, countries that make clothing, or run assembly lines, etc. are more heavily affected by the Artificial Intelligence takeover. For the most part the cheap labor they provide requires little education to perform, just human bodies and their mechanical ability to manipulate objects with their hands. You can already see this in your own time period as automation replaces thousands of factory workers in China. Even countries like India or the Philippines who have capitalized on traditionally human communication services like call centers and IT are affected.
Why would call centers be affected?
Think of Siri, but infinitely more sophisticated. You can hold conversations with AI in the future and not be able to tell whether you are talking to a human or not… 25 years from now you can replace an entire 300-person call center with a single server the size of your laptop. I am talking human like communication skills so incredibly lifelike that some people even have real relationships with them.
They like…. date them?
I don’t even want to go there…. The future sounds kind of grim to me professor. Is there anything we can do?
Yes. First of all let me say that the future isn’t grim, it’s just the near future that’s grim.
That’s not helping.
What I mean is… that the transition period will be unpleasant for many. You know… I mean,,, electricity put candle makers out of business for example… While candle makers were indeed out of work and were forced to learn new skills to survive, the world benefited overall from the introduction of electricity right?
Right, but this is going affect a lot of different industries at once it sounds like.
So did electricity; but if you saw electricity on the horizon you did quite well. You learned to work with it quickly, or you found new ways to utilize it, you educated yourself on it and prospered.
OK, this is actually starting to sound like an opportunity.
Absolutely, it’s going to be a goldmine for those who are prepared.
Well, how do we prepare?
That’s a great question. First of all, don’t do work that can be automated or that simply requires the answer to what-if questions in a structured system.
I’m not quite sure what that means Professor, a structured system?
Computer code is a structured system, therefore writing code will be done by AI in the future. The tax system is a structured system; therefore taxes will be done by AI. Law is a structured system, it will be done by AI as well. This isn’t to say that there won’t be opportunities inside these industries for humans,,, just realize that the need for a research attorney for instance will become a very low paid job as the computer will do all of the actual research in the future. AI will understand the legal problem, understand the desired solution, and within seconds put together the strongest possible case. Can you see how what are currently lucrative careers like CPAs and Attorneys, are vulnerable to AI disruption?
Yeah, that’s pretty wild. I just assumed we were talking fast food workers.
Right, so make sure you aren’t stuck in something easily automated, and if you are, make sure you put yourself in a position to work with the machines, and you’re not trying to compete against them. Secondly, you will need to become a lifelong learner, constantly improving skills so that you remain relevant. Gone are the days when you go to college, start your career, and casually learn the rest on the job. Technology will move at such a fast pace that college becomes useless as skills become obsolete yearly. The skill you really need is the ability to learn about, and adapt to recent technologies.
Also, you will need to forget about the idea of working a single 40-hour a week job for a single company, as this doesn’t exist for the majority of jobs 25 years from now. Companies aren’t paying humans and all the associated liabilities that come along with them if they don’t have to. The world of the future involves a lot more freelance work, or short-term work. So you may land a great job, but it may be based on a 1 year project; when the project is over you will need new work. For the most part the people that are successful in the future are either the people that own the robots, or those who have that creative attitude to exploit them. By that I mean they don’t need to be told what to do; they see opportunities from the technology they are presented, not threats.
OK, I am writing all this down,,, but basically to flourish in the future we need to be constantly learning and adapting to the rapidly changing environment.
The opportunities that are coming are amazing! Look, a third of the new jobs that exist today didn’t even exist 25 years ago. Think about how many Jobs there are right now that only exist because of the internet; now think about how many of those same jobs didn’t exist 25 years ago in 1992.
You see jobs aren’t disappearing forever; new jobs will begin to appear at a rapid rate. Electricity produced more jobs than it displaced, and while it looks to you at this point in time that robots will produce less jobs… they won’t. But there will be a lot less of certain types of jobs, and it will take quite some time for the transition to complete. The question is, will you be prepared to do those new jobs?
If you are prepared you will have amazing opportunities awaiting you. So while the rate of change will cause many disruptions, it will also bring many prospects. Those that are successful in the future will need to learn how to work with these new technologies quickly, constantly learn, and find new ways to use what they have learned to benefit their industry. Those that choose to do nothing, to do what is easy,,, they will find that life becomes very very hard.
As always, you have been a wealth of information Professor. I’m going to try and sum this up for my readers so we can all be prepared.
So glad I could help… Well I better get back to my own timeline because all the information I just gave you is probably going to cause a major paradox, and I sure don’t want to be here to see it.
Wait… that doesn’t sound good.
Oh, it’s nothing… It’s just that we changed the course of history on your timeline. You know.. like someone read this, saw the future and decided to have one less kid, which means that kid didn’t have 3 kids, and his kids… blah blah blah,,, so basically we just deleted 1,000 people off the planet 200 years from now.
Oh my God really?
Ehhh,,, it happens… Hey great talking to you, hope to talk to you again soon.
Geez, OK,,, I’m a little rattled by all that. Anyway I’ll summarize for our readers what you said and we’ll see you next time.
Preparing for Artificial Intelligence in the workplace:
- Anything that can be automated, will be automated. If you are doing a low skill job that a robot or piece of software can easily replace you have to raise your skill level to stay ahead.
- Highly structured jobs like accounting and law are at risk. Meaning if you want to work in these careers you will need to work in them in a way that you aren’t competing against artificial intelligence, but working with it. For example, the human touch and emotional skills of an attorney may become much more valuable in the future, as the research and strategic planning is done better by AI.
- You will need to never stop learning. The tools you work with will develop faster and faster, and those who are able to keep up with the technology and exploit it the fastest will benefit the most.
- Provide for yourself, don’t depend on an “employer”. Full time employment won’t be a thing for a lot of us in the future. You will need to develop new skills and utilize them in your own independent work. Technology will make it easier and easier to create your own goods and services, with incredibly low overhead, and get them into the hands of the purchaser without a corporate middleman. Diversifying your income like this will be very beneficial in the future.
- Don’t focus on the negative. Opportunities are coming, as long as you are prepared. We can see clearly now that the candle maker that blamed electricity for all his problems would have been served better by quickly learning about electricity and accepting the change. Huge opportunities came to the candle maker who accepted the new future, to the stage coach builder who accepted the automobile. Those who are willing to adapt will do well.
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