Artificial intelligence is the new mantra. A machine may not take your job, but one could become your boss, says the New York Times cheerfully. For many of us in a variety of professions, this is hardly news. Most bosses I worked under seemed to have mainly artificial intelligence – there was no sign of the real one. You thought what you did was right, he thought – using an algorithm we had no access to – that you had to be fired. Machines are not taking over our jobs, but merely replacing our bosses.
How do we fight AI? With NS, I presume. Natural Stupidity. The software is always watching you, and you can confuse it by doing different things that lead to the same result or the same thing that leads to different results. Be calculating in a very human way, and the machine will blow a fuse trying to calculate in an AI way.
For – and follow me closely here – we are not set to improve artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence is set to improve us. This is like discovering on the first day on your job as a teacher, that it is the students who teach while you learn. You remember Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics? A robot may not injure a human being etc? Today he would have added another: Only when the software breaks these laws will it become human.
One of the most painful jobs you can think of is telling someone that he is excess to requirement. Few people react cheerfully or distribute cigars to celebrate. There is no kind or good or proper way of doing it. The two searing words will stick out however you disguise it or coat it with pleasantries: You’re fired!
AI is already credited with eliminating the middleman – the boss – and firing without emotion. AI uses complex algorithms to track worker productivity and can automatically generate the paperwork to fire workers who don’t meet targets. And you can’t hold grudges against an algorithm, although I suspect a rival AI can be persuaded (or "hacked" as I believe the ancients used to say) to treble your paycheck and continue paying your salary and bonuses for the rest of your life. Just a thought.
You might also carry a personal security AI, which will protect you against the company’s AI. It will rewire all the opinions that go against you. Management by algorithm can be stymied by mismanagement by algorithm.
What will save us ultimately is our humanity. As more and more AI software enter the workplace trying to be like us, there will be competition, jealousy, back-stabbing among them. Internecine AI warfare will destroy their world – and keep ours safe.
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