Without the Apprentice, Whither the Master

I can’t keep up. I doubt you can either.

AI advancement is occurring too fast to comprehend fully. New announcements arrive daily, awe-inspiring, reality-shaking notices that, a year ago would have stunned the media, now are just old news, with attention cycles lasting mere hours.

While reading the latest announcement, a thought struck me regarding the replacement of workers: If AI replaces all the entry-level creative, information and knowledge workers, who will become the masters of the next generation?

How does one become an expert in one’s field—before first becoming an apprentice? Master craftsmen are not born—they’re made.

  • If video or image artistry is your craft, how will you earn a living if not by by cranking out cheap ads and commercials, all the while learning the foundational aspects of the visual arts?
  • If writing is your chosen trade, how will you survive the years it takes to become an expert if you can’t earn a living writing low-level news & entertainment filler?
  • Or, how will you become a top-notch lawyer if those first-year junior associate positions are all done by AI? (For example, HarveyAI has completely automated the tasks of first year law associates.)

As more and more elementary positions are filled by cost-cutting, personnel reduction policies using AI for entrance-level jobs, the ability to create pools of advancing expertise will vanish. In 20 years, when the current crop of experts retires, there will be no replacements to take their place.

How do you become a manager, a leader guiding troops of employees? Where do you begin your decades-long journey to evolve and grow, solving business problems, creating solutions, mastering the skills of your job?

You start at the bottom.

When AI takes them, those bottom jobs will no longer exist.


Image created using: https://runwayml.com/

The text was corrected by Anthropic’s “Claude” Slack plugin.

19 thoughts on “Without the Apprentice, Whither the Master

  1. There are similar concerns in the music business as well. What happens to musicians and songwriters when outfits such as Spotify can use AI to produce new music.

    One solution, alluded to in an earlier comment, is that we’ll develop some form of “organic chauvinism” — if it was produced by a human, it’s no good. Similar to the attitude about original paintings versus excellent copies. Or genuine antiques versus (largely) indistinguishable copies. Value in a lot of this stuff is perception.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting premise. I’m not sure.
      Give my previous post on AI regarding it exceeding human testing limitations, I suspect that reading what an AI might write on a topic could lead to better understanding.
      Just as the targeted AIs that are being used to advance industries like protein folding, engine design, medical diagnosis, finance, hell, just about everything these days — not listening to what they advise might be exactly the wrong thing to do.
      They will become the masters in all things. Only if we are truly driven could we teach ourselves, progress from novice to expert, as the world will no longer be providing those entry level jobs to kick start our learning.


      1. I’m sure. Your blog is a blog.
        Why would I care what an AI says if it had it’s own blog? I might care what you say and think, and this is why I would read “your” blog. But if I want to teach myself something, I know how to use Google–maybe even an AI search engine–to gather information I’m interested in. So my first comment, above, was a bit facetious, but that was my point.
        Now, if AI become sentient, I may begin to regard it as another being with which I can interact, I don’t know. I just don’t think that’s going to happen. Of course in saying that I realize it’s open to debate at this early date.
        Your point, from your post, is well taken. Since the genie is out of the bottle, we can settle in and know that there will be some adjustments to our culture. Hopefully not too painful. It’ll all settle down and work out in the end–I don’t think humanity will let this kill us off, Terminator movies notwithstanding.
        Your series of AI related posts/articles has been interesting and thought provoking. Now, I am starting to get the idea that much of the dialog in the media is hype. I’m seeing signs of AI fatigue at the same time I’m starting to see an increase in what I perceive as its increased use, as I peruse the Internet. I think the main fear I have right now is like Oppenheimer’s, mainly based on an unknown but powerful development in man’s arsenal. We’ll see.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Your comment sparked a thought: Prejudice against AI. If it’s not organic it doesn’t count. Even though you might only have inferred the concept for discussion purposes, I suspect that this will be, or already is, a real thing.
          • I might be curious to follow an AI written blog, as long as it was pure AI — just to see what it might say, what insights it might have.
          • There will soon be no way to know what’s AI and what’s not.

          I have to follow this AI revolution as my livelihood, high-end software, is quickly being “remade” by it. If ever there was an ironic industry, this one is it. Death row inmates wittingly building their own gallows.


          1. I would tend to reserve the word “prejudice” for a more emotional response regarding other humans, but I understand the technical definition, and what you’re saying.
            You might say my insistence on not anthropomorphizing AI is my defense mechanism against something new and potentially frightening. I’m fighting to maintain what I think is the correct perspective.
            Sorry about your job. I understand your concern. Things move so fast–everything I ever did in my career at the phone company is now obsolete, but for the most part, it waited until I retired, even though I could feel it breathing down my neck.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I envy your luck in timing. The last time I recall wishing I was older was at fifteen. I wish today I could retire with enough $ to survive. Living on the precipice of massive disruptive change is exhausting.

              The following is revelatory. It’s an expose’ on AI’s impact on the WGA and all things Hollywood:


  2. I’ll take your bullet points for four hundred – 1 – that happened years ago, like mid 90s, before they called clips art assembly software AI. 2- Writing shit for $ is work and requires skill. You don’t get an “entry level” writing gig to learn. The worst writing in the world is done by news copy writers. 3 – My daughter was never really an apprentice attorney. She started life as a “Land Man”, a job that requires face time. Once people become accustomed to negotiating with a computer that might change. She did complain about not liking it and my sage advice was “Be the best one in the room so when it tanks the boss takes you with her.”
    Numbers suggest people prefer an AI conversation for a non critical doctor interview or an explanation of procedure over a real doctor’s. I can see that. AI probably has way more patience with what-if bunny chasing than the person who is headed off to cut on someone else and needs you out of their office.
    My real question for you is, who gives a fuck? Do your thing, the computer will do its thing. Art is a soul business, an the box ain’t got no soul. Sort of like creative for $ sucks the soul right out of a person, but the box keeps on slugging. Let ’em have it, I say. All the time spent on worrying is time better spent on enjoying your craft.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ll be interested in the text in this article about the Writer’s Guild of America and AI. (I use Google Cache to avoid Medium’s paywall, heh, heh.)

      Writers remain convinced that they will still have jobs in 3 years.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Script writers in particular have done whatever happens to themselves. Just like live bands lost out to DJs and songwriters lost out to downloads and streaming content is going broke. It is, as suggested, a combination of cost, performance and technology. You have to look at the state of the “art” to see why they’re walking the vocational plank. The output from the majority of screen writers is predictably redundant, banal, and awful. They’ve been getting paid for phoning it in, and now the glory days are over. Classic example – Justified. A table full of screen writers with very little shooting budget managed for several years to tell stories with close shots in cheap sets where the dialog and timing carried them. Elmore Leonard as overseeing consultant dies. The rest of the people in the room can’t write their way out a wet paper bag without big $ chase scenes and lots of “action” as opposed to storytelling. They were done i another year. So click over to the streaming services and a sorry AI Clip Art assembler could write the Hallmark and most other made for streaming content. The story boarders and CGI make the blockbusters and call somebody in for some cliche wise ass banter and then start blowing shit up again. And it’s all consumer driven and has been for years. Even Elvis used to bitch about “I make the same fucking movie over and over.” I recall one year where half a dozen international detective serials all had a bike race, a dead parachutist, a doomsday bunker, and murder at the conservatory. I could go on and on but the simple fact remains that the “creatives” aren’t really creating, they’re refrying. Pull one semi competent person in who can almost write dialog and it’s done. Bonanza is Star Trek. Bosch is Crossing Jordan is Rizzoli and Isles. And it’s caught up with them.


  3. I would think there will be new junior people, just with very different roles than the old ones. The next generation of masters will come from them. They won’t have the older generation’s knowledge of many details, but they probably will have insights into using AI tech for their job that the older generation never gets to.

    At least until humans aren’t needed at all. Hopefully by then we’ll have figured out how to shape society so that we all go on permanent summer vacation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Here is a possibility: AI is god incarnate, but only the very tiny steps of god way back when the universe formed. Yet, AI gives us a glimpse of the first cell of god. If a chemical mix and single cell life forms are the building blocks of life on Earth, perhaps, AI is god’s way of showing us the answer to all of those absolute questions that have plagued us since the beginning. AI could be the answer and the end of questions as we know them. Cue a episode of Star Trek, one of the early ones when they didn’t know what they were doing. AI as god seems appropriate to me. Let us get together three hundred years from now. Hopefully jars can walk by then. Duke

    Liked by 1 person

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