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A great thinker and academic by the name of Steven Pinker https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Steven_ has suggested that the state of our world and humanity has improved in almost every measure.
That was before AI, and we have to ask if the world has changed much, and if AI is actually the problem we have to worry about.
Pinker says the good-old-days were in the reality the bad-old-days, and almost everything back then was worse than it is now. Whether it is how long we live; how educated we are; how lawful we are; how many wars we have; or how many countries execute people, we have made great improvement. Clearly, we also have never had as much access to information through the internet, and with the advent of AI that access may be now endless.
My personal evidence of the bad-old-days is recalling my father saying that when he was young there was so much work to be done it was dangerous to be alive.
It is hard to argue with the data which Steven Pinker has produced, but some people feel there may be reason to worry.
- The last eight years have been the hottest years on record https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/climate/earth-hottest-years.html and the ramifications may be huge in terms of the potential for conflict
- Economic uncertainty has grown https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2023/06/06/global-economy-on-precarious-footing-amid-high-interest-rates
- Disinformation may become widespread https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/may/20/elections-in-uk-and-us-at-risk-from-ai-driven-disinformation-say-experts
- There is potential for military conflict in hotspots in the world which I probably don't need to name.
- There is an increased likelihood of pandemics like Covid https://www.unesco.org/en/articles/pandemics-increase-frequency-and-severity-unless-biodiversity-loss-addressed
People may feel that parts of our future may be looking increasingly like the past.
In the history of the world, though, regardless of which civilization you look at, there has always been periods of conflict, warfare, civil strife, loss of jobs, poverty and starvation. Of course, we have survived through all of these, and we will survive through the next.
The big question is ‘How do we, our children and our grandchildren survive well through a period of tumultuous change which may be amplified by the effects AI has on jobs?’ https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-65102150
Lots of old ideas remain very important – things like working hard, good family relationships, and being careful with your money, but what strains will these fundamentals have if we live in an uncertain world?
It may be that having an additional strong and focused interest to future proof your life through self improvement will be a bedrock against all the uncertainty in the world.
Interests in academics, hobbies, arts, handcrafts, science, literature, music, or sports, will become much more important, and conceivably, all of these could be supported by AI. Ambition for self improvement will be most beneficial if it is linked to clubs or tutors where you, your children, or your grandchildren feel the personal benefit of well-handled competition, and the warmth of friendship.
The future may not be bright, but with good habits to occupy your mind, and friendships to give you a sense of worth, we may have enough to future proof our lives through to the next period in the world of Stephen Pinker.
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