The Looming AI Threat of AI: How it Impacts Work and Personal Well-being

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Generative AI sparks imagination, wonder, and in some people, some dread. 
 

As technologies like generative AI become increasingly embedded in our personal and work lives, the conversation extends beyond just the impact on jobs and productivity. Ethical and moral concerns become louder as well.  

Despite all its advantages, we wonder: is generative AI a threat to humanity? Or as one audience member at the Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna asked: what is the tradeoff?   

Throughout the history of technology, whether that’s the invention of the wheel or fire, there’s been a tradeoff where humans have benefitted by gaining security or speed. What is the great tradeoff human beings are making now by relinquishing our ability to reflect and think critically? - Nahir, Audience Member

At the 2023 Peter Drucker Forum, Quid’s Cofounder and President, Bob Goodson, spoke about “Enhanced Cognition or Existential Crisis? Keeping Technology and Human Progress Aligned,” There, he also interviewed trained philosopher, author, and technologist, David Weinberger, where they discussed the need to keep technological advancements in harmony with human values. The following is taken from those conversations.  

 

In Conversation with David Weinberger  

AI and Human Intuition  

Goodson and Weinberger started their discussion with people’s most primal concern: safety.  

People are increasingly worried about the security of their jobs. Particularly among roles where AI is getting better and better at mimicking human intelligence like insight generation, identifying trends, and ideation. The question isn't whispered but loudly asked ‘Is AI going to take my job?’ 

In Weinberger’s view, fears about AI replacing jobs are often based on flawed human intuition rather than hard data. By looking at more ‘rational data’, Weinberger suggests that jobs are likely safer than we believe. AI will never have all the abilities of a human being. People have evolved a unique ability to learn and reason, AI will end up augmenting human abilities rather than replacing them outright.  

Still, whether misguided angst or cause for genuine concern, the belief that AI is a threat to our livelihoods will undoubtedly continue, even while our excitement about AI’s advancement grows.   

AI is Not Human 

“AI is designed to be mind-blowing, and it’s designed specifically to sound like a human and that obliterates, on purpose, the deep differences between AI and humans.”  - David Weinberger  

AI has been developed to sound like a human, in written and spoken responses. We are fascinated by AI because it’s designed to ‘blow the mind’ in its abilities and speed. Many people consider Alexa, Siri, and other human-sounding systems as friends and colleagues. But it’s important that we recognize the boundary between human and machine.  

AI doesn’t understand the world; it only understands what humans have said about the world. It’s susceptible to bias and hallucination. To our advantage, we tend to intuitively recognize the human/machine difference as, says Weinberger, when “we all respond to it as ‘you,’ but behind its back we say it.” 

Of note, given AI’s limitations, it is critical to have trust in the people and companies that have built a particular AI system.  

  

Will AI be the Cause of a Great Existential Crisis?  

The panel discussion explored the implications of our growing reliance on AI, its’ complexities, its role in shaping a good life, and its’ effects on personal, work, and educational spheres.  

The ways we currently work with AI clearly amplify human intelligence, given that AI is generally helping people spend more time doing what they enjoy and on tasks that add the most value. By eliminating routine tasks, AI creates space for people to think and develop better, more creative ideas. 

Hartley noted that while AI can help uncover “unknown unknowns” and push us to new frontiers, it is the human experience that is crucial for discovering what matters most in life. There’s something unique about the way humans learn and discover that’s different from the way AI processes information. As Iñiquez de Ozoño states...

“The link between your thoughts, your soul, and how those link to what we feel physically and sensitively is not something that robots can mimic”.

This point is crucial to remember as advancements in AI continue. Ultimately, humans' greatest fear is that we will be replaced by AI. But is that possible? From the conversations held at the Peter Drucker Forum, it appears that the answer is no.  

So, when we consider the productivity tradeoff humans make by surrendering our ability to reflect and think critically, Goodson notes that as we continue to rely on AI and our devices for propositional and acquisitional knowledge—which will likely reduce our reliance on memory and limit creativity and critical reasoning—we, and future generations, must focus on developing skills that keep our creativity intact.   

There is intrinsic value in the capabilities human beings possess, a value that cannot be replicated by AI. The only way to ensure this, however, is by maintaining the characteristics that make us human.  

 

Watch Bob Goodson’s full panel discussion here.  

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