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The challenges of our society in the AI age

Generative AI is reigniting the discussion about the future of work. Technological development cycles are exponential, as the release of GPT-4 just revealed.

MIT professor Eric Brynjolfsson, interviewed in the article linked here, and his colleague Andrew McAfee have been researching the challenges facing our societies in the face of technological developments for years. Above all, people and institutions would have to adapt more quickly, “upskill,” as they say today.

“AI is impacting the quality of work and the way we do work. So we need to look at the extent to which we keep people in the loop rather than focusing on driving down wages.”

Companies use AI for automation routines to work more efficiently, but hardly use the human potential to rethink processes and develop new business models. Improvements must be made here – and they must be made subito, says Brynjolfsson.

The current technological disruptions do not come as a surprise. They had been waiting in the pipeline for years to manifest. But societies are too slow to respond to these emerging challenges. Neither the people, nor the educational institutions, let alone the authorities are rudimentarily prepared to recognize the opportunities and bring them into use. And of course, this will significantly shake up the labor market.

Brynjolfsson acknowledges that the range of roles involved is “much broader than previously thought. There will be winners and losers. In many cases, jobs will improve, but some will go away. Routine work will become increasingly automated – and there will also be a flowering of fantastic creativity. If we use these tools correctly, positive changes will occur. If we don’t, inequality could worsen, leading to further concentration of wealth and political power.”

A “change in awareness” is now needed at all levels in order to make the possibilities of AI usable for a positive shaping of society: On the part of scientists as well as political decision-makers, employers and employees. Everyone should now learn to think in a new way and not just get hung up on the potential dangers. One could also look positively at the developments:

Does Brynjolfsson have one last message for business leaders before he leaves for his next lecture? “We need to catch up and maintain control of these technologies,” he says. “If we do that, the next 10 years will be the best decade we’ve ever had on this planet.”

Well then. So keep at it and keep learning consistently! And not only with regard to the application of existing technologies, but above all how we can actively (!) help shape these developments. This requires other skills, but no one has them on hand to “teach”. So we have to develop them together. Now!

Article published on piqd on March 22, 2023 as a reference to the Raconteur article Stanford researcher on the AI skills gap and the dangers of exponential innovation

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