What broke the Internet today, well at least my Internet, was the Google AI assistant making a restaurant and hair salon appointment.
As I read through my friends’ reactions on social media, I can’t help but wonder, what does this really mean?Well, if one has any IT knowledge, let alone AI, one would immediately marvel at the technological advancement that Google has made. It is difficult to explain to my parents why it is easy for computers to understand complicated programs but it’s so difficult for computers to understand human speech or writing. Well, it is DAMN difficult. And this is the first problem.
This is unbelievable, only from a technical perspective.
These days a lot of people mixed up technological advancement with other types of advancement. What Google showed today is a technological advancement, and a very impressive one indeed. But how does it impact our society and our life is another matter. Similar to bitcoin, yes, it is indeed pretty neat to come up with that system in a 9 page white paper (well, if you take out the reference page, it’s really only 8). But it seems these days everyone is too busy trying to claim they have knowledge in the technological advancement. Perhaps this gives them the self assurance that they can continue to talk about cryptocurrencies or blockchain in general and how do they impact our society.
This is insane.
We don’t need to know how integrated circuit works before appreciating how computers change the world.
But why are we getting this?
One could argue because information, and perhaps ‘knowledge’, is so widespread these days, no one is content or completely secured with their own field of expertise. Therefore we have:
Business executives trying to talk like programmers
Programmers trying to talk like data scientists
Data scientists trying to talk like physicists
Physicists trying to talk like philosophers
Philosophers trying to talk like economists
Economists trying to talk like social psychologists
Social psychologists trying to talk like politicians
Politicians trying to talk like business executives
So at the end of the day, without sticky to their own domains, no one really knows what they are talking about.
Going back to this AI advancement, apart from admiring the technological improvement, what does it really mean to us?
It seems like everyone is so positive about it. Yes, we can finally get rid of our secretaries!
There seems to be two very big problems here.
First, as in the industrial revolution, what it did, apart from moving the society as a whole forward, was really replacing low skilled (physical) workers by machines. And in this AI age, similar things are happening. We are going to replace low skilled (knowledge) workers by computers. The problem is, this is only going to create more wealth inequality in this world. As AI pushes forward, we are going to see fewer people controlling the bigger majority of the world.
Second, which is kind of the other side of the argument to it, is this ‘really’ going to replace all the secretaries? Anyone who has a secretary before knows there are good secretaries and there are bad secretaries. Good secretaries make things happen. Bad secretaries act like ‘robot’, only perform the very specific instructions the boss has given out. So in the AI age, does this mean the separation is good AI and bad AI programs? No, because unlike human, programs can be replicated infinitely. So what does this mean to “making things happen” if every AI secretary is the “same”?
Let’s really give some deeper thoughts to this.