Who’s in control?

Brian J. A. Boyd writing in The New Atlantic asks some thoughtful questions about the effect of AI on society and especially the work place:

“B.S. Jobs and the Coming Crisis of Meaning”

He writes around the area of Autonomous AI – the kind of systems that take the human operator / decision maker out of the process, systems that just get on with the task, and ultimately might come to replace human performed jobs.

If jobs are replaced by AI it poses all sorts of questions:

  • Is that a good thing?
  • What does that say about the value of those jobs?
  • Which jobs have already put the machine in charge?
  • What does that all say about the value of the people?

Of course there are big economic and societal considerations that stem from these questions – not least, what work is for…

There are clearly potential benefits, but Boyd’s reasonable fear is that AI becomes the middle-class of society – a ruling elite who set the rules, AI the decision maker, and a new underclass who serve the system. Doesn’t sound like progress or utopia to me!

The creation of perfect AI servants, if embedded in social structures with roles designed to maximize profit or sustain oligarchy, may bring about not a broad social empowerment but a “servile state,” formalizing the subjugation of an underclass to those who control the means of production

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