Artificial Intelligence: Are We All Going Stupid and Unemployed?

Illustration and Text by Susanne Gold


Companies of all kinds today use artificial intelligence, to forecast demand, hire workers or meet customer needs to be identified.

Artificial intelligence is a billion-dollar business. Google even stated that AI will change more for humanity than the discovery of fire or the use of electricity.

So far, it has been about the technical feasibility and benefits of AI in production facilities. In the meantime, the impact of AI on the world of work is being discussed in particular.

In Germany, the development of AI in companies is comparatively still in its infancy. Smaller farms are still relatively rare modern digital technologies. And even in larger companies, their use strongly according to the respective industry.

But: The calm before the storm should not be about the importance of obscure the development.

One of the world’s most influential consulting firms, McKinsey, published a study in 2018 that found that up to 30 percent of workers worldwide could be replaced by AI in the next few years. That’s about 800 million people who would be without a job.

Another figure: Chinese AI guru Kai-Fu Lee said in January 2019 that 40 percent of jobs could be lost in the next fifteen years. Technological change would also create new jobs, but they would be highly skilled and difficult to cope with by low-skilled people.

What sounds like dystopias on the one hand is also excellent advertising for the product AI. Because corporations promise themselves by the widespread use of AI further profit maximisation.

Some are sure that many people will find their jobs due to artificial intelligence, or at least with their help, further exploited Be. Because the use of “smart” or “smart” machines always makes less well-trained people who would work on or with them. Companies, on the other hand, could thus achieve ever lower personnel costs. Sun package messengers around the globe, for example, would already be exploited today, and this exploitation has been highlighted precisely by the growth of digital trading platforms Allows.

The other group in the controversial debate on the future of work, on the other hand, suspects that AI has great opportunities to enhance human work. In the future, monotonous tasks would be AI, and this could improve the quality of human improve work and its contents.

Here is the argument that, just because we always smarter machines, to help us with the complicated and creative work do not have to lose weight. On the contrary, the use of AI in the Production sites here are like a promise of salvation. There is only a lack of internationally applicable standards and quality seals for AI in order to ensure safety and quality requirements and all workers would be carry out meaningful activities.

Massively useless people or creative workers: are these two predictions really at odds with each other?

Is it not rather probable that part of the people loses their work, while the other part loses a meaningful and creative work? History teaches us that technological Change on the working population always has very different effects both positive and negative. Let us look to the future today, we are certainly at risk of a division of society, in which which, on the one hand, the tech-savvy workers and on the other hand side those who are considered to be technology outsiders and who are become useless.

So it’s not just about where we can use AI today, it’s about what roles people can play in tomorrow’s world of work: in a world of work that will be more and more influenced by AI technologies.

In addition to the question of what work AI can do for us, it is always a question of what skills we want to promote and what roles they should have in the labour market of the future. With regard to the role of man in the world of work of tomorrow, there are two philosophical schools of thought that deal with the uniqueness of a free person against the background of intelligent machines.

Has man sealed his own demise with AI? Two opposing philosophical positions.

Thesis of the weak and strong AI of the new Rationalists

The weak AI thesis states that while there is a difference between people and machines. However, this is not an obstacle to the Machines can ultimately become anything that humans can do. The Supporters of the strong AI theses even assume that there is no difference between humans and AI robots. These set the assumption that the human brain works just as much as a complex robot. This turns brain power into computing power and makes every human action can be determined. The renaissance of the Humanism.

Digital Humanism

Julian Nida-Rümelin, a professor of philosophy with a focus on ethics at the University of Munich, speaks out against the two AI theses of rationalists. In his world view, man is not a predictable mechanism, but a free, autonomous actor. Digital developments expand people’s capabilities without replacing them. In his theory of digital humanism, people weigh up morally and decide unpredictably.

Regardless of whether and to what extent humans are machine will be able to delineate, we are entering a new age. Machines are no longer passive command receivers, but intelligent and autonomous acting beings with whom we will cooperate. Every human being is networked with a variety of AIs in the future. Our smartphone is just one Foretaste of it. This results in a new diversity in the world of work, a new diversity in the teams.

Today, the optimists rave about the agile team, which both humans and machines, and in which there are no rigid structures more. The course for people in the world of work of Tomorrow, the “Human Computation”, a culture of coexistence of humans and machines, instead of the dominance of one of the Partner. This can be achieved through learning organisations that free of fear with AI.

Google, for example, has founded the Google Art + Culture Institute for fear-free experimentation, where artists can experiment with AI while creating completely new and extraordinary things. In this way, Google creates an important docking point for experts of all kinds and promotes an innovative AI culture that attracts specialists and creative minds. However, this is only interesting for those people who are enthusiastic about technology. But there are also the other people who are not picked up by such a development. People who love routines and always constant tasks. These people, too, must be picked up in a new economy.

Once again, it becomes clear that the discussion about AI is like a Russian doll. The smallest of these revolves around the question: Who are we human beings at the core and in what world do we actually want to live?

Artificial intelligence is on the one hand machine and yet always seismograph of our inner states.

Today, when we use AI systems in an established and capitalist way, i.e. exclusively to maximize profits and increase efficiency, we are heading towards a society in which all wealth gains go to the owners of smart machines. and the income gap will widen massively. We will arrive in a society where many people have become useless. However, we will all feel the socio-cultural consequences of such a development. Poverty is already a driver of mass migration, but also a warmonger. Relative prosperity, on the other hand, is a guarantor of peace. The question of the future of work is therefore about nothing less than peace in the world.

What could a solution look like?

So the promises of massive profit maximization through smart machines are juxtaposed with an impoverished mass of workers who have become useless. A challenge, crisis, danger and opportunity at the same time.

Us economist Erik Brynjolfsson imagines a “digital Athens” to solve this challenge. In its utopia, AI– like the ancient slaves – takes over all the work of the free citizens, so that they can devote themselves exclusively to creative and social activities. This requires an unconditional basic income. This presupposes the willingness of the owners of smart machines to share the profits they make with these machines with a large number of workers who have become useless.

But – is there not a danger here that we humans will become completely dependent on these machines?

The answer to this question depends on our actions in the present: for the future of labour, the question arises, strictly speaking, whether we want to continue our system of wage labour in general, our capitalist social model as a whole.


Wouldn’t this be the perfect time to set the course for a completely new – utopian – economy and society?

A world in which we set ourselves up along completely new values: Worldwide?


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