How to Surf a Technological Tsunami and Dance with Machines

By: George Chanos

Change is coming. Like a Tsunami.

In 2014, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said, the “Singularity” (the moment when machine intelligence eclipses human intelligence) will be “the greatest event in human history”.

Ray Kurzweil, the head of AI for Google, has said that we may reach the “Singularity”, as early as 2029. That’s only seven years away.

Even more remarkable, is what Kurzweil says will happen next. Kurzweil says, that by the 2040s (twenty years from now), AI will not be our equal – it will be a billion times more capable than human intelligence.

Humans lack the intellectual capacity to even comprehend what an intelligence a billion times our own means. But one thing is certain. AI will impact every aspect of human endeavor. It will literally redefine life as we know it.

New technologies like AI, automation, and robotics, will change the nature of employment. They will allow for increased efficiencies, higher productivity, reduced costs, improved safety, and greater reliability. They will have a dramatic impact on wages, and create an urgent need for increased training and education.

Some argue that technology has been reshaping the workplace since the Industrial Revolution. That’s true. What’s different today, is the speed of change, and the scale of change that AI will create. Both will be entirely unprecedented.

As machines evolve and acquire greater performance capabilities, that match or exceed human capabilities, the adoption of automation will increase dramatically – at mind-bending speed.

On a global scale, McKinsey estimates that 47.5 percent of all current jobs, could be automated based on existing technologies. In ten years, that number will be closer to 90%.

Today, 30 to 45 percent of the working-age population around the world is underutilized, unemployed, inactive, or underemployed. 75 million youth are unemployed. Advances in automation will only increase these numbers.

Many are rightfully concerned about their children’s economic prospects. It is no longer an article of faith that every generation will enjoy a higher standard of living than their parents…

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