The future is coming, and while it’s always good to look forward to what is new and exciting, maybe we should do so with a little reflection toward the past. In a future of robots that can do anything and everything, can we afford Apple’s products?
As much as I wanted once to be an Ancient Astronaut Theorists, Futurists have other ideas about, well, the future. If Donald Trump ran a successful presidential campaign touting jobs growth, how will future voters feel about jobs that go away because robots can do them better and for less?
Watch Edition and fully tricked out Mac Pro notwithstanding, I consider most of Apple’s products to be aspirational in nature. In fact, Apple itself is an aspirational brand; certainly as much as $2,000 handbags, or $100,000 cars. The difference is obvious. Anyone can use an iPhone, Mac, iPad but they’re priced within reach; close enough to be called affordable luxuries.
Katja Grace lead research into what futurists say about the future, somewhat based upon Google’s AlphaGo trouncing the best Go players in the world. How long before such artificial intelligence, as embodied in various physical robots and online AI entities can do everything better than a human and for less money?
According to results of research and surveys of machine learning and artificial intelligence experts, all human jobs will be lost to robots in about 120 or so years. Robots using AI will be able to translate languages better than humans in less than 10 years. Surgeons will be out of a job in less than 30 years thanks to advancements in AI.
Similarly, robots will adapt via machine learning and artificial intelligence will power the way to write school and college essays in 10 years, out run a human in a 5k race in less than 15 years, write a New York Times best seller in just over 25 years, and handle all your retail sales in a decade or so.
Granted, these are futuristic considerations from people who have no track record of predictions that we can track, so they could easily be off by an order of magnitude, but you get the idea. “The Robots Are Coming! The Robots Are Coming.”
Already robots, machine learning, and artificial intelligence help Apple to build higher quality products for less money than humans, and that means greater gross margins and higher profits.
What happens to Apple is the customer base continues to lose jobs to robots running on AI? How will be pay for what Apple designs, builds, and sells? How will humankind afford to buy Apple’s aspirational products in a future that is run by robots?
Are robots and artificial intelligence dangerous?
The real risk with AI isn’t malice but competence. A super intelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with ours, we’re in trouble. You’re probably not an evil ant-hater who steps on ants out of malice, but if you’re in charge of a hydroelectric green energy project and there’s an anthill in the region to be flooded, too bad for the ants. Let’s not place humanity in the position of those ants.
Already humans on planet earth are being manipulated en mass by the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Google, and others who would distort our realities for profit. What happens when humans cannot accomplish such manipulation as well as robots and AI?
Will I still have a job and will I be able to afford an iPhone?