The coming artificial intelligence economic revolution will be a great shock to the world. There is a serious possibility that the next decade will bring a series of social and economic changes akin to the industrial revolution and the advent of the internet combined. Many writers, recruiters, lawyers, writers, artists, and even programmers are increasingly being replaced by AI as the “laptop class” of workers is decimated. At the same time, workers who work with their hands enjoy job security; Your services cannot be replaced by technology. Unfortunately for many young people, the media’s advice to “learn to code” may have been like investing in a typewriter.
Artificial intelligence is progressing at breakneck speed. Recent announcements of programs that can mimic human conversation, copy our voice, write research papers, and paint beautiful pictures are just a small part of the coming AI revolution. The coming changes in everyday life will soon be felt, including the popularity of AI-generated video games, music, art, and even movies. A short description and a mouse click spit out a new novel by John Steinbeck or an economics treatise by Thomas Sowell.
Numerous jobs that require college education are changed almost overnight. The rapid advances in this new technology will devastate the very people who have thrived during COVID, especially those who work in the “knowledge economy” and are often able to complete their tasks from their laptops at home. Advances in artificial intelligence over the next one to five years will surpass most work a human can type on a keyboard. Most content on the web is written by chatbots. There will be AI influencers. Code is written in a tiny fraction of the time it takes humans to produce it. Graphic designers will lose most of their business to art generators. Even accountants and financial analysts can be outperformed by computers. ChatGPT helps programmers with simple code that often needs refinement. The chat service can also help replace many of the smarts needed to build a website. It has already passed an MBA exam and legal exams.
Some office jobs will fare better than others as AI advances. Those who push new techniques or are at the forefront of their trade will still be able to earn a respectable wage. At the same time, workers whose jobs rely on an element of personality and personal relationships are likely to weather the storm. Would you rather have a real human advising you on legal matters, your finances and your healthcare decisions – or a machine? Still, the shift toward a near-job-free creative world could see white-collar jobs dwindle across the board.
The coming economic earthquake will be something of a reverse industrial revolution. Professions that require practical knowledge offer far more security than “knowledge economy jobs” that can be supplanted by algorithms. Replacing sheetrock can only be done through action. The AI can’t build a house, fix a plumbing problem, give you a haircut, or install lights in a public space. AI could make workers’ lives easier with new tools and techniques, but the basics of construction, utility work, and intricate machining remain the same.
We are entering a world where general knowledge will mainly be known by machines and practical knowledge will still be implemented by human hands. The loss of millions of currently well-paying jobs has a huge social impact. Many people who have invested their time and career in a particular profession will experience a collective identity crisis. The increasing speed of social change and technological progress can mean serious shifts from year to year.
Ironically, the massive advances in STEM could also prove to be its downfall. Engineers and academics will be needed for the foreseeable future. However, many of the career paths in science, technology, engineering and mathematics may be severely limited due to AI. Majors would have been worth more than social science degrees, but that’s damned low praise.
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The elite’s mockery of an honest day’s work may be the last century’s economic and educational blunder. Unfortunately, the last generation of education has put the ideals of the clerk ahead of the experience of the workers. Convincing aspiring electricians to study English or even mathematics was perhaps a very bad choice.
Many Americans will be shocked at the speed with which artificial intelligence is changing their everyday lives. And just when the “new normal” sets in, there will be even bigger changes. But with online journalists receiving pink slips, there will still be a need for someone capable of repairing an oven.
Kristin Tate is a libertarian writer and analyst for Young Americans for Liberty. She is an author whose latest book How Do I Tax Thee? A field guide to the great American rip-off.” Follow her on Twitter @KristinBTate.