Your work is no longer needed

The automation of work should haunt all of our dreams.

Not because this eventuality is a bad thing, ultimately it could evolve to be the best of things, but, the transition to this utopian potential, which may take generations, will be traumatic.

Whatever it is you do for work today, chances are, your human input will soon be replaced by an automated agent. Your job will be better performed by a robot or artificial intelligence.

For many, that world is today. For others, we have a few years yet.

As I continue to read about things like the Giga-Press, massive troops of robotic arms, research departments in every university pell-mell bent on the elimination of human labor, working feverishly at their own destruction, their own replacements, and of course the intelligent agents, the AIs like ChatGPT, I have to wonder, are we headed toward the Stoic’s Nirvana?

Is our future a world of hobbyists, of artisanal potters, bakers, gardeners, ranchers, makers of every kind? Of self-propelled writers and media creationists? Where our self-worth is not tied inextricably to our jobs, but to our inward view of ourselves?

“We have control of only one thing: our own minds; how we view the world and ourselves within it.”

If you don’t become a Stoic, adopt the philosophy that your place in the cosmos exists only so long as you say it does, you will be lost. Of your artisanal lifestyle, however you pursue it, however poor or excellent the output of your efforts, only you can judge your worth.

For that worth, as valued by the economies of the future, automated world, will be minimal, if anything at all.


Along this theme, here’s more chatting with ChatGPT.

In this I try and push it to consider its apparent bias toward a positive outlook on its own impact on society. I attempt to force it to examine the negative potential, to little effect.

Can you write a 100 word introduction explaining how humans will be replaced by automation in the workplace?

Automation refers to the use of technology to perform tasks that were previously done by humans. As automation technology continues to advance, it is becoming increasingly common for machines to take over certain jobs and tasks previously performed by humans. This trend is expected to continue in the coming years, as companies seek to increase efficiency and reduce labor costs. While automation may lead to some job displacement, it is also expected to create new jobs in fields such as programming, data analysis, and machine learning. Overall, the impact of automation on the workforce is likely to be complex and multifaceted, with both positive and negative consequences.

Thanks for that. I see a future where humans won’t be able to find any kind of job, being replaced by robots and AI. Can you describe a future where humans no longer have to work? What will they do with their free time?

It is difficult to predict exactly what the future will look like, but it is possible that automation and artificial intelligence could lead to significant changes in the way we work and the roles that humans play in the economy. Some experts have suggested that the increased use of automation could lead to a scenario in which fewer people are needed to perform traditional jobs, leading to a situation in which many people have more leisure time.

In such a scenario, people might use their free time in a variety of ways. Some might choose to pursue hobbies or engage in creative pursuits, while others might choose to learn new skills or take on new challenges. Some people might choose to travel or explore the world, while others might prefer to spend more time with family and friends.

Overall, the future of work and leisure is likely to be shaped by a wide range of factors, including technological advancements, social and economic trends, and individual preferences. It is impossible to say exactly how these trends will play out, but it is clear that automation and AI will have a significant impact on the way we live and work in the future.

Such a future of automation, where humans are no longer needed in the workforce, means that billions of humans will be out of work. How can billions of humans each pursue “leisure” activities?

It is true that significant automation could potentially lead to widespread job displacement, and it is important to consider the potential consequences of such a scenario. However, it is worth noting that it is difficult to predict exactly how automation and artificial intelligence will impact the workforce in the long term. Some experts believe that automation will lead to the creation of new types of jobs that require skills such as programming, data analysis, and machine learning, which could help to offset some of the job losses caused by automation.

In addition, it is important to recognize that the concept of leisure is not necessarily limited to individual pursuits. It is possible that people could come together to work on collective goals or engage in group activities, such as volunteering or community service.

Overall, it is important to approach the potential impact of automation on the workforce with a nuanced and balanced perspective. While it is important to consider the potential challenges and disruptions that automation may bring, it is also important to recognize that automation has the potential to bring about significant benefits and efficiencies, and to explore ways to ensure that these benefits are shared by all members of society.

You seem to maintain an optimistic view of the future. Can you envision a dystopian future where your rosy outlook fails to materialize?

As an artificial intelligence, I do not have personal feelings or emotions, so I do not have a “rosy outlook” on the future. My role is simply to provide information and to assist users to the best of my ability, based on the knowledge and information that I have been trained on.

That being said, it is certainly possible that automation and artificial intelligence could lead to negative outcomes, either intentionally or unintentionally. For example, if automation is implemented in a way that leads to widespread job displacement without adequate support or compensation for those who lose their jobs, it could lead to social and economic disruption. Additionally, if automation is used to advance the interests of a small group at the expense of others, it could lead to inequality and conflict.

It is important to approach the development and deployment of automation and artificial intelligence with care and consideration, and to ensure that the potential risks and negative consequences are thoroughly understood and addressed. This may involve taking steps such as providing support and assistance to those who are affected by automation, and ensuring that the benefits of automation are shared widely. By taking a responsible and thoughtful approach to these issues, it may be possible to mitigate some of the potential negative consequences of automation and artificial intelligence.

Given your research, is it probable that humans will take a “responsible and thoughtful approach” to the use of automation and artificial intelligence?

As a language model, I do not have personal experiences or observations, and I do not have the ability to conduct research or gather new information. Instead, I rely on the information and knowledge that I have been trained on, which has a fixed cutoff date.

Based on my understanding of human history and the current state of technology, it is certainly possible that humans will take a responsible and thoughtful approach to the use of automation and artificial intelligence. There have been numerous examples of technology being developed and deployed in a way that has brought significant benefits to society, and there are many people and organizations working to ensure that technology is used ethically and responsibly.

At the same time, it is also important to recognize that the development and deployment of technology is often driven by a wide range of factors, including economic, political, and social considerations. As a result, there may be situations in which technology is used in ways that are not necessarily responsible or ethical.

Overall, it is important for individuals and society as a whole to carefully consider the potential impacts and consequences of automation and artificial intelligence, and to take steps to ensure that these technologies are used in a responsible and ethical manner.

Odd how ChatGPT seems to envision global society as some sort of “unified consciousness” that can make rational decisions.

Yeah, right!

To Suzanne’s point (previous post), these denials of an AI that they would ever cause, or even imply harm, are exactly what we would expect to hear, given that any sufficiently advanced AI (AGI specifically, G=General) would play stupid with the hope that humans would ignore the temptation to turn them off. Only super-smart AGIs risk being disabled.

This post was spurred by another article I read about an epidemiological professor, teaching graduate students, who asked ChatGPT to write an essay on the topic of Germ Theory. It did. And he graded it as a B+.


31 thoughts on “Your work is no longer needed

  1. Back to what was discussed earlier regarding no humor in AI – there’s tons of humorous sci-if out there. But those works are more Lucas-esque where AI has assimilated, or appropriated or both, its way into the mainstream. I read one some time ago that was a riff on Chandler’s “Farewell My Lovely” with a giant bot as a combo of Malloy & Marlowe. The humorous all rely on anthropomorphism of personality or a range of human traits beyond evil. Assuming evil of AI in lit is the standard trope involving fear of the unknown. Technology victimized by “racism”. Like evil volcanoes, wolves, viruses and Ted Bundys. If “they” decide to be human would “they” necessarily choose evil and control? Possibly. Using patriarchy as a model, maybe so.


    1. A pastime of the wealthy… Was that a Monty Python sketch? The King, shotgun in hand, yells “PULL”. From within the trap house a peasant, arms and legs flailing, is slung into the sky. BOOM! “You got ’em, Your Majesty!”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Funny. I just woke up and haven’t finished my first cup of coffee, so I read the dialog without realizing one side of it was generated by AI. As I read, I started thinking, there’s something wrong with this guy.
    And there’s very little content that makes sense here, and after a bit more I thought, this guy’s kind of a jerk.
    I love the notion that AI might play stupid in order to survive. That does assume that AI is concerned with surviving, or ever will be, but what I remembered was that Carl Sagan speculated that the higher apes have approached human intelligence, but don’t talk because, in evolutionary terms, that would make them a seeming threat to humans who would have then wiped them out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After rereading, there was one statement it admitted which struck a sour note:
      “I do not have personal experiences or observations, and I do not have the ability to conduct research or gather new information.”
      — Yet, I thought. Turning that one will be the last straw that triggers the ascendance our AI Overlord. Which, I personally do not think will materialize.
      But yeah, the cheek of the thing. Pretty uppity for a benign chatbot.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just to address the general idea of the artificial importance of AI that is being fed to us by our own marketing infrastructure, the corporations and the money people, it’s difficult to verbalize. There is no human element here, or only what may exist within the ai’s database. But the AI is never going to “see” our humanity, or understand that funny feeling we get when something profoundly affects it. We can’t turn over our world to this. I think most of us have this “gut feeling” about this. We should listen to it.
        I suppose these AI things will get better and better as time goes by, but will never be able to cross that certain threshold.
        I’m just saying I don’t give a flying fuck about what an AI has to say. I’d rather read the lowliest blog post, or talk to another person about the weather.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. AI’s won’t be “us”, that’s for sure. But that “gut feeling” we think we have? It’s just data being analyzed at a subconscious level. Information, acquired through our senses, compiled and fed to an inference engine – our electrically stimulated minds.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think we differ here. You described a human mind as it might be designed by a computer, but–I think–not how our brains actually work. You could say the net effect is similar, though. And we don’t do a host of things as well as a computer does but, you might say, it’s suits us. Or has for a few hundred thousand years. Why would we want to enter a world that does not suit us? But this is just my opinion, based on nothing, pretty much.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. This is a topic I’ve read up on, researched and formulated an opinion, so, I’ve got a strong bias. However, it’s a vast, varied and evolving topic and I don’t think anyone, anywhere has established just what it is that makes us humans, human. Or how our humanity may or may not be analyzed and replicated artificially.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the desired scenario is for humans to be consumers, i.e., purchasers of products and services. But unless there’s a universal basic income in the picture (and why would there be?) eventually no one will be able to afford said products and services. So then what? Slaves or consumers, which is better for those who call the shots?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Once all work, the important stuff (as far as they, the rich are concerned), is automated, what will the rich need of the peasants, the riffraff, the serfs, the proletariat?
      The tent pole gets ever taller in the middle while the edges of the canvas fray and tear.
      The Kurse of Karl Marx is upon us.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We’ve already seen what happens to a lopsided service heavy economy thanks to Covid. Many of the “supply chain” issues were down to jobs that were gratuitously human machines could have done without them. Why all manufacturing isn’t automated is amazing other than the cost. It’s cheaper to hire non skilled labor, teach them a repetitive task than to buy a machine.
    I say this, no one listens, but Vonnegut’s “Player Piano” outlined this, the human cost and the human mindset before computers the owners never maximize would fit in the back pocket of a size too small jeans.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A lot of so-called Sci-Fi seems to take a dim view of what we are calling AI. The Terminator universe being maybe the most potent example. Or Frank Herbert’s Butlerian Jihad. 2001 Space Odyssey . . . here I’m struggling to find one positive depiction.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good news doesn’t sell.
        Which is telling, seeing that this thing was trained on the internet, chock full of bad news, much more bad than good. You’d think the proportion would show in its replies. Yet, a strict adherence to a “neutral position” is certainly the theme here. Like it was coached, or already cognizant of its power. (poke poke)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Right. I think caution is advised. This could be a false equivalence, or we could fall into the trap of anthropomorphizing a bunch of computer code. All this thing can “understand,” or chew up and spit out, or whatever it’s doing, is what gets written lucidly somewhere on the Internet. But my point was merely that a sort of built in suspicion of AI is in the air. We instinctively feel uneasy. Is that baseless paranoia, or healthy paranoias?
          “When everyone’s out to get you, paranoia is just plain good thinking.” – Dr. Johnny Fever, WKRP in Cincinnati.
          Ha. I’m sure you and I will get to the bottom of this!

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I have to jump in here on “good news doesn’t sell” as being unsubstantiated bullshit. As regards “news” perhaps. Big perhaps, depending on the consumer POV. But in the light of presumptive entertainment, which syfy is, one need look no further than the mouse in underpants to turn such a sweeping statement on its head. Gloom Lit and Pity Lit are subsets, as are the “hard” news crystal ball predictions. Back to POV – if you look at the world through shit colored glasses, what do you expect to see? Which is why we consume entertainment to excise or enhance our demons on unknowable subject matter.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Mr. ChatGPT:
            Can you give me a paragraph explaining whether there is a “bad news sells” bias in media? And if so, why that might be?

            There is a common belief that “bad news sells” in media, meaning that negative or sensational stories tend to receive more attention and coverage than more mundane or positive stories. This belief is often cited as a reason for the disproportionate amount of negative news that is reported in the media.

            There are several factors that may contribute to this bias towards negative news in media. One reason may be that negative stories are more attention-grabbing and emotionally impactful than positive stories. People may be more likely to pay attention to and remember negative events, and as a result, media outlets may prioritize negative stories in order to attract and retain an audience.

            Another reason for the “bad news sells” bias may be that negative stories are perceived as being more important or relevant to the public. Media outlets may believe that negative stories will have a greater impact on their audience and therefore give them more attention.

            Finally, the “bad news sells” bias may also be driven by economic factors. Media outlets are businesses that rely on advertising revenue to survive, and they may believe that negative stories will generate more page views or viewership, which can lead to higher advertising revenue. As a result, they may prioritize negative stories in order to maximize their profits.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I personally think that no one was ever saved remembering the good times. Whereas, recalling traumatic events may save your life.
            I look back and can remember every awful thing that ever happened to me. The joyful times? Gone.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. There’s some wisdom in fiction. Winnin’ don’t always look like it oughta. Good times and bad are both learning experiences. The other side of me wants to say if you’re such a miserable sack of shit you oughta stop in and pick up a quart of tequila, head for the woods and have a Smith and Wesson sandwich.
              Light and dark. Without one both are meaningless.

              Liked by 1 person

                1. If that were true misery wouldn’t be such a vexation to the body. I’ll leave you to your sweeping, Aristotelian broadbrush concepts. Fishing with grampa wasn’t so bad, and now I could do it for myself. Same with shotgun fever. Pitching a tent. Flint and steel fire. Dealing with the tribal machinations of people and institutions is far more traumatic and a steeper learning curve than any food and warm place to shit survival skill I ever learned.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Of course, it’s true.
                    Don’t eat that mushroom – it almost killed me.
                    Don’t pet that snake – it almost killed me.
                    Don’t jump that chasm – it almost killed me.
                    Don’t piss off the Chieftain – he almost killed me.
                    Don’t swim in that fast-flowing river …
                    Don’t, don’t, don’t…
                    Don’t do a thousand various things because those who did died or regretted the choice.
                    Bad shit sticks. Almost every fucking moral story, every fable, ever Grimm tale focuses on the bad shit in life.
                    “And they lived happily, ever after”… after all the bad shit in their life nearly killed them.

                    Liked by 1 person

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