During the 2018 World Government Summit in Dubai this week, Google X co-founder Sebastian Thurn stated that artificial intelligence innovations would usher in an era of “superhuman” workers who are capable of doing far more work than what is conventionally possible.
Thurn asserted that AI-based solutions, no matter how advanced, are tools designed to augment the productivity of humans. Thus, instead of rendering human workers obsolete, AI would likely help humans achieve greater work efficiency.
“AI is a tool and what AI can do really, really well is getting rid of repetitive work. So, if you are a worker, say a medical doctor or a lawyer who spends day in and day out doing the same thing, then having AI look over your shoulder and learn those skills from you will make you a superhuman, a more powerful person,” he said, according to a Futurism report.
Thurn, however, did admit that some trades in the workforce are bound to be adversely affected by the incoming AI revolution. The Google X executive believes that this change would present an opportunity for humanity to transition into a creative society.
“Now, that means that some jobs will go away, very repetitive work, of course. But it will be replaced by created work, so we have to move from a repetitive working society into a creative society where we invent new things,” he said.
The Google X co-founder’s optimistic outlook mirrors that of futurist Ray Kurzweil, who issued equally optimistic expectations for AI during a discussion held at the Council of Foreign Relations last November. During his talk, Kurzweil stated that artificial intelligence has the potential to “enhance” humanity.
“My view is not that AI is going to displace us. It’s going to enhance us. It does already,” Kurzweil said.
The idea of AI-powered technologies becoming mainstream has become a particularly tricky issue among many notable voices in the scientific field, with individuals such as physicist Stephen Hawking and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk issuing warnings about the dangers of unregulated AI solutions. For Musk, the race towards AI superiority among the world’s superpowers would likely be the trigger for a global armed conflict. Other critics of AI believe that intelligent technologies would be the end of entry-level jobs as we know it.
If the Google X co-founder’s viewpoints are proven right, however, a lot of these reservations and fears are unwarranted.
Considering that artificial intelligence has the potential to be both beneficial and detrimental to society, a number of AI-based initiatives have been started over the past few years. Among these is OpenAI, a research firm co-founded by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk that aims to ensure that bleeding edge AI is used for the benefit of society as a whole. As we stated in a previous report, OpenAI has recently increased its hiring efforts, seemingly as a way to further its push to build safe, intelligent solutions.