Could it be all, though? You can quickly expect to find a target for a technology that consumes more energy than Australia, yet they have not been able to create any real reality other than paying ransom, drugs or child pornography. But once you get past the big stupid theory, you’re left with the words: It’s high technology.
I’m talking about a problem that goes beyond crypto: the lack of purpose, the lack of reason for people to continue to produce “new, new,” even the money that is created, which is driven by the story created in Silicon Valley that. technology, any technology, that unfailingly promotes human progress.
In the valley of the word, asking these questions is best left to the Luddites. But the self-evident march of new technologies into society requires critical scrutiny. As injuries continue to increase, I question why we are using such technologies in the first place.
The results of social media are not interesting not only because of their ability to distort the world’s discourse, spreading falsehoods too quickly for the truth to emerge. As many observers have also complained, they are replacing online relationships with real ones, creating other realities open to manipulation for profit.
With the help of company managers to change processes and make the most difficult decisions, robots will create a better way. But the history relies on vague assumptions: First, that automation makes profits stronger; secondly, that the fruits of this progress will be widely distributed throughout the community.
Companies that produce more, the story goes, will expand production and hire more workers. Manufacturing machines will also create new jobs in the industry for people to do. Incomes rising in line with productivity will lead to the need for new products and services, improving productivity. And increased competition for workers will raise wages.
But even if these ideas are understandable, at first embarrassing, they do not really correspond to what we see in the real world, where the growth of jobs occurs in cheap labor groups like McDonald’s and 7-Eleven. Anyone who thinks that the benefits from the machine will be widely shared has not been listened to.
A new economic study on the effects of technological change has found that technology bias towards automation can lead to increased wage inequality, and fill the labor market with uneducated workers who have lost their jobs and seen their wages fall. and those – especially college graduates or graduates – who are not.
Technology calls for new jobs, opening the door to new jobs, but it also favors the most educated and offers little to workers with the necessary skills whose jobs have been taken over by machines.
A study by economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University and the University of Utrecht found that the economy created many middle-wage jobs and clerical jobs from 1940 to 1980. But most of that is now gone. The jobs that have been created since then have been either high-paid professional or low-cost jobs.
And you just wait for Artificial Intelligence to advance. What Google CEO Sundar Pichai calls “the most important thing that humanity has ever done” will open up new human experiences to what the money in the valley likes to call “disruption.” Employees who have been moved by the next version of ChatGPT have taken their usual role in explaining the situation: destroying the road.
The challenge of progress is not simply to share its fruits. These same benefits are in doubt. You may remember Elon Musk’s admission that “humans are limited,” a rare admission of error after trying to build Tesla’s assembly lines led to delays and failure. Mistakes are common: Technical support for design is often hard to come by.
As Daron Acemoglu of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology observes, most automation systems are only adding more to the bottom line. Consider customer service or customer service at McDonald’s. Managers do it for themselves for two reasons: “I’m moving forward” and everyone is doing it, and the money that is paid to the workers who are laid off and new technologies, for the company, is unnecessary. So even though the returns are low, they are worth it.
Innovation, in some ways, happens very quickly. In 2020 the US patent office issued more than 350,000 patents for inventions, almost six times more than in 1980, at the beginning of the digital revolution. But total productivity during this period grew at a slow 0.7% per year, on average, less than one-third of the growth rate from the 1940s to the 1970s.
Although techno-optimists in Cupertino and Mountain View tend to ignore the uncountable numbers as errors – data hackers are missing all the good things – many great experts are coming to the idea that all the miracles of IT will not bring about a change in productivity.
Innovation is something that cannot be denied. Therefore, we survive diseases that often kill us. We can find and process information beyond our imagination. Without new technologies we cannot face the problems of economic destruction and climate change.
But as Acemoglu and his MIT colleague Simon Johnson point out in their forthcoming book, Energy and Progress (due out in May), contemporary evidence and the long history of human technological development prove that “there is nothing predictable about new technologies that they bring widespread prosperity. Whether they do it or not is an economic, social, and political choice.”
Silicon Valley, he argues, shouldn’t feel entitled to make the call. With the business world chasing opportunities for AI to take over more and more jobs and decisions — playing Go, doing law, analyzing markets — Acemoglu and Johnson fear technological advancements are sending humans down a dark path.
What if instead of increasing productivity, AI simply redistributes power and development away from ordinary people and towards those who control data? What if it impoverishes billions in developing countries – where cheap labor can’t compete with cheap automata? What if it promotes prejudice based on skin color? What if it destroys democratic institutions?
“Evidence is mounting,” they wrote, “that all these concerns are true.”
We can avoid Skynet. Technology must not lead us to an oligarchic dystopia. The past 150 years have been filled with technological breakthroughs that empowered workers and lifted all boats.
Think of the mouse and desktop interface, or Excel, or email. These inventions enhanced human creativity, rather than extinguishing it. Arguably the next greatest technological change in our history, the shift from an agricultural economy to an industrial one, left workers in the lurch.
We have amazing technological tools at our disposal. The question is whether we use them in a way that is compatible with society or discard them as an escape from the journey of progress.
It may not be obvious how to use technology in a sustainable human way; creating tools that maximize human potential. However, one thing is clear. It will need to overcome the unchallenged idea of new leadership from a tech oligarchy that benefits from social migration and isolation.
Then we can create a social network that is not prone to spreading fake news, attract more viewers and increase advertising revenue. We cannot replace our American customers with machines that do not provide such services. And we may not accept the urgency of climate change to find a new way to pay for illegal activities.
More From Other Bloomberg Opinion Writers:
• AI Has Come to Save Art Itself: Leonid Bershidsky
• ChatGPT Is Not the Magic Bullet for Microsoft’s Bing: Parmy Olson
• Why the Future of Technology Is Hard to Predict: Faye Flam
This column does not reflect the views of the editorial team or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Eduardo Porter is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist who covers Latin America, US economic policy and immigration. He is the author of “Poison America: How Hatred Destroyed Our Promise” and “The Price of Everything: Finding Ways in the Madness of the Things That Destroy It.”
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