All jobs will disappear
In a very near future, we will have trucks driving long distances without any human interaction. These autonomous trucks will soon be more profitable compared to manually driven trucks. An autonomous truck never gets tired and has full driving attention. It drives more energy-efficient than a human is capable of, and it arrives at its destination faster because it does not need to sleep or eat. In addition, it does not demand a salary, it never takes a vacation and it can drive nearly 24/7. In the beginning, they will be relatively expensive but the business case will be strengthened every year and soon enough no one can afford to have people driving the trucks.
This will also happen in most other workplaces, mainly in the areas where volume and productivity are critical. Everything from truck-, taxi- and bus drivers to doctors, lawyers, and business executives. The human professions that will survive the longest are those where people deliver services closely linked to empathy and human understanding. These abilities are harder to achieve in AI and, initially, will not be prioritized. But eventually, AI will take over these professions as well, and possibly before the end of this century.
So far, new technology has introduced new jobs
We have had robots in factories for several decades and that has just lead to new types of jobs being created. And we have had machines for hundreds of years! During this period, pessimists have always warned of mass unemployment as the result of machines taking over. But so far, we have only gotten new roles as new products are introduced. We have gone from hard physical labor to increasingly use our brain by leading machines and people and by performing administrative work. When Apple released the iPhone in 2007, it led to an unpredictable chain of new business opportunities for app developers which led to a host of new jobs in companies such as Instagram and Snapchat. Isn’t this enough proof that we should not be so worried that AI will take our jobs?
The problem is that we only have two resources that we can use in order to produce; our muscles and our brain. As the machines took over in the past, we gradually went from using muscle strength to using our brain. When AI eventually becomes smarter than us, we have nothing more to contribute, at least not significantly from a production point of view. AI, together with robots (its physical connection to the world), can do everything that we can do, but better, cheaper and faster, just as the autonomous truck will be better, cheaper and faster than a human truck driver. In other words, it will be useless for us to come up with new solutions or inventions, at least from a productivity point of view, as AI solutions will be superior. The human being will no longer be the smartest creature on the planet.
Empathetic jobs are the future!
It is not just jobs that require shorter education, like a truck driver, that will be replaced or changed drastically over the next few years. It probably doesn’t even correlate with the length of the eduction. Knowledge-intensive work such as doctors and lawyers will see a major change over the next few years. That change has even already begun. We will mainly need a doctor to show empathy and serve as an interface between the patient and AI. We will use them less for making a diagnose. As long as the doctor has done a good job to capture relevant patient data, AI will be able to make a diagnose based on all the registered knowledge in the world.
Professional roles that require empathy and human understanding will exist longer partly because these roles are not prioritized, since we are capable of solving these things ourselves, and partly because they offer a huge challenge. However, AI will eventually beat us in these areas as well, it will just take longer. Robots will think empathically and they will even look completely human which means that we will finally be replaced in roles like waiters, healthcare personnel, police, prostitutes, psychologists, salesmen, etc.
A new meaning
AI will be more creative than us. AI will be better at understanding our needs, and AI will make better solutions than us. Once the first true general intelligence has arrived, we will not need to invent anything any longer (except for pure pleasure).
For many people, their profession is an important part of their identity. However, if we want to feel good in the future, we need to update our self-image. We can instead find meaning in, for example, relationships, health, and personal development. We will probably to a larger extent, explore human interaction, culture, and philosophy. It’s a transition that will be very tough for the generations that saw their work as indispensable.
If we are not working anymore, are we getting money from somewhere else? How do we pay for our living? How will organisations get paid for the products and services they offer? Will the state be stronger or weaker? Who will own the means of production? Will the economic inequality be larger or smaller? Will we still have capitalism? Will we even use politics to distribute resources? What about democracy? What do you think?