Human-AI cooperation

2016-12-30 2 min read

    There’s been a lot written about the rise of AI and the impending automation which will lead to a mass reduction in industries requiring a human touch. The counterargument is that every time there has been a technological improvement new, higher value jobs have been created that more than offset the loss. Farming used to grossly inefficient when done by man but now massive harvesters are able to replace dozens of human workers. Similarly, technology has allowed entirely new industries to be created that just wouldn’t have been possible before - every company is embracing technology to succeed and with that comes improved efficiency and lower costs.

    I forwarded an article about Bridgewater, a hedge fund, trying to replace managers with AI, to a friend and he replied with the astute observation that this is already happening at Uber. The drivers are depending on an algorithm to tell them where to go and how to get there. Sure someone wrote the code but there’s no person actually telling the drivers what to do - that’s left to the algorithms. It’s only a small example now but I have no reservation that these sorts of change will sweep all industries over the next few decades.

    I’m not as optimistic nor as bearish as many and I expect that at least in the short term we’ll find a sweet spot that’s able to leverage the strengths of AI with those of humans. A great example is to look at chess. The best chess players consistently lose to AIs but a human paired with an AI is consistently better than an AI alone. It’s unlikely that machines will all of a sudden take over and more likely it will be a fusion of the two with AI growing larger and larger in share as it improves. By then we’ve hopefully figured out how the world should look.