Dark warnings of a world where computers become so sophisticated, so quickly, that humanity loses control of them—and its own destiny as a result have been issued by people like famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Tesla’s Elon Musk.
However, such warnings are farfetched, thinks Peter Norvig, a leading artificial intelligence scientist and a director of research at Google.”I don’t buy into the killer robot [theory],” he said in a TV interview this week.
He said that how to prepare for the mass elimination of jobs that is surely coming is the real worry.
“I certainly see that there will be disruptions in employment … we’ve already seen a lot of change, that’s going to continue,” Norvig said in an interview, before a lecture on machine learning at the Stevens Institute of Technology.
Whether the impact of machine learning is minimal or whether it consumes half of all the jobs over the next decade are some of the real issues and by now there’s wide consensus on this matter, the question is really just scale.
Altering or eliminating any number of jobs in law, finance and even media, more and more it’s going to creep up the value chain, although this process is well underway with manufacturing jobs.
“The pace may be so fast that it [will] cause disruptions,” Norvig said. “So we need to find ways to mitigate that.”
“Be aware of the various technologies and be able to use them, and apply them to whatever field you’re interested in.”-Peter Nordvig, research director, Google
Anyone frightened by the prospect was sympathized by Norvig, a former computer scientist as NASA.
But will these destructive technologies lead to new opportunities that are now unimagined, just as the internal combustion engine ultimately led to the demise of the stagecoach, and also to millions of new jobs.
“It’s easy to see jobs disappearing … [but] it’s hard to see the new jobs that will be invented because they don’t exist yet.
“There will always be stuff to do,” he said.
Norvig said that abandoning career aspirations because of it or getting discouraged by machine learning should not necessarily be the things that young people starting on their career path should do.
Instead, “find something [you’re] interested in that provides something that people want, and think deeply about it.”
“Be aware of the various technologies and be able to use them, and apply them to whatever field you’re interested in,” he added.
Either through universal basic income, a WPA-like program, or some other means, so that people whose livelihoods are eliminated are quickly unable to adapt, the rest of society has an obligation to support, Norvig also believes.
“There has to be some social program for people who say ‘I had a job, and now I don’t—I’ve got no family to fall back on, what do I do?'” he said.
(Adapted from CNBC)