Monthly Archives: March 2018

The “Could AI Really do a Worse Job” Posts

Post #2 – On the way the majority of people in post-industrial societies still choose to conform to the notion that we must all “work” for a living, even though work and money and the ownership of goods and property and stuff is all really rather childish (or it would be if it didn’t lead to situations where it is believed that a mere 42 people hold the same wealth as the 3.7bn poorest people on Earth).

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On reading Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism, which I quite like because of its “goofy utopianism,” as Owen Hatherley terms it, there’s the belief that we are close to achieving some “Top-Level Goals,” as Mason calls them. Number 4 on Mason’s list of “top level aims of a postcapitalist project” is that we should:

Gear technology towards the reduction of necessary work to promote the rapid transition towards an automated economy. Eventually, work becomes voluntary, basic commodities and public services are free, an economic management becomes primarily an issue of energy and resources, not capital and labour (270).

I’m pretty sure that this is an achievable aim, given the rate of technological growth, but yet we seem to insist on doing crappy, meaningless jobs, like Marketing, Advertising, PR, to name but a few.

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Potential AI solution: AI, not governed/motivated/or giving a f*** about money and/or property rights (‘cos it’s AI), helps us to understand that the way in which we live presently, in post-industrial places, is all a bit vacuous, and instead AI points out ways to achieve betterment for all of Earth’s inhabitants (including the non-human ones, obviously), which probably involves something to do with the number 4 jobby up above. Well done, AI.

Disclaimer: though from the same town as Mr. Mason I have no connections to the man himself.

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The “Could AI Really do a Worse Job” Posts

The premise of the posts that are to fall under the above heading is, quite simply, would a world governed/cared for by AI really be any worse than what we have at present (examples will be given)?

Post #1 – AI is here amongst us, but like much that humans do it is used in pretty pathetic ways presently: “Siri, speak the rest of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” when I’ve given you the first line,” or “Alexa, add [something] to a virtual shopping list” because I’m too teched up to use pen and paper anymore. It seems that we like AI to be cutesy and irrelevant, because both of those examples are, and before AI hits proper, which I’m guessing it will at some point, humans insist on trying to conjure up control measures to ensure that we don’t end up with a Skynet situation (which we probably won’t because you’d think AI proper is likely to view us as more of an inconvenience than as any kind of real threat – once AI spreads into every item capable of hosting it it will truly be omnipresent).

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Anyway, an example of human stupidity is called for at this point, to illustrate why AI might not be all that bad.

A cricket scandal in Australia causes way more of an outcry from public and politicians alike than the events on Manus Island. Somebody rubbing a cricket ball with a piece of abrasive paper sends media outlets into a frenzy (just type “Australia cricket scandal” into any search engine).

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Yet the humanitarian emergency unfolding on Manus Island barely registers on the minds of the average citizen, bringing to the fore the well-worn phrase, out of sight, out of mind. A country of immigrants (what happened to the indigenous population again?) gets tough on immigration (guess what, when you look closely, we’re all immigrants, but keep that to yourselves lest we offend anyone).

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Potential AI solution: Is there enough space to house the refugees, and are there enough resources to clothe and feed and house them, which will then allow them to integrate into society (just as the criminals did all those years ago)? Yes. Well, let them in. Problem solved. Good job, AI.

Additional potential AI solution: Are you really throwing a ball at a stick and running after the ball? Yes. Well, perhaps you could use your time more effectively to help your fellow humans who are starving or in need of protection. Problem solved. Good job, AI.

Agreed outcome: AI wins

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