In an interesting discussion at The Web Summit 2014 ” State of the Nation: Discovering the ‘Global Brain’ “, Tim O’Reilly presented interesting ideas about our perception of Artificial Intelligence (AI). According to Tim, AI is not taking our jobs but it is changing the way we do our jobs. On one hand we experienced a worst Global economic and financial crisis caused by AI due to speculative financial instruments, digital money and computer algorithms which control the stock market . The 2008 Global economic crisis was indeed the very first crisis caused by AI and showed the devasting side of AI. On other hand, Social media like Twitter was able to bring about a social revolution in entire middle east dethroning the dictatorial regimes which was never expected just a decade ago. Indeed, We are building up a ‘Global Brain’ today.
According to Tim, AI is today giving super powers to human beings. Just like Captain Spock on Star Trek, today Internet of Things (IoT) has provided human beings a capability to interact with others with wearable electronics. The GPS system on smartphone has made it possible for any human being to navigate to a destination in any unknown part of world as long his smartphone is able to connect with WiFi. Smartphone is truly first of devices to bring about IoT revolution. Today, Predictive analytics have enabled devices to make suggestions to user. For example, It is possible for GPS to look at real-time traffic information and divert the driver to the closest exit to avoid the upcoming traffic congestion.
AI in electronic devices is not only making these devices smarter but these devices in turn make us smarter. In this way AI technology is truly ensuring a symbiosis of the technology and its users. Today, Users want a real experience and they do not wish to own technology just because it is cool but also because it has good use. As an example of symbiosis of technology with the end user, today Uber app on smart phone has given capability for the end user to order a cab with click of button but it has also helped the driver by giving him the freedom to take or reject any job at his discretion. Now , AI is posing a question about what to do with the time that has been freed up with use of technology.
In this way, The IoT revolution is going to change the way human beings have been doing their jobs. Today, We are midst of a Great recession since 2007 and all the policies that have been followed by the government and businesses have not been able to restore back the level of prosperity that existed in 2006. Tim O’Reilly believes that we should talk about work rather than jobs. The work that we seek should be able to fulfill our dreams and add value to the quality of life of others rather than looking for just jobs. He has provided following areas for entrepreneurs so as to create employment that has work that is enjoyable and also benefits the society at large
1. Population Control
2. Improving health care
3. Teaching and caring for children
4. Rebuilding infrastructure
5. Rebuilding a better trust in government
Additionally, Just like many individuals who are concerned about the state of Global economy, Tim believes in a better version of capitalism for 21st century rather than ‘Dog Eat Dog’ world that is based on predatory system. A democratic government is finally about people. A functional democracy where government is of the people, for the people and by the people can only be achieved as long as people make it so. On the similar lines, AI technology can work as a good technology as long as people make it so.
Tim O’Reily’s talk was followed by Q&A session and I put forth a question for Tim.
Q. I recently read following quote – ‘There is no meaningful political democracy without a functioning economic democracy’. What is your take on it? Do you think that we need to move towards a more balanced economy?
A. Absolutely. Nobody creates jobs but customers. We have created a debt fueled economy and we need to figure out a way to rebalance the economy so as to achieve two goals
1. Creating work
2. Redistribution of income
If businesses are not able to figure out a way to achieve it then what will people be doing with their capital. It would be floating in some island in middle of ocean.
Here is some of my suggestions
My opinion agrees with Tim O’Reily when it comes to an important fact about customers being the drivers for business. In fact, I have explained in several articles that the real job creators in a free market economy are not only producers but also consumers. Unless both producers and consumers prosper, an economy never prospers. In today’s predatory economic system which is based on supply-side economics, all incentives are given to only producers. The consumer demand is created by luring consumers into debt. In this process, not only consumer debt is swelling but even national debt has reached unsustainable levels. Hence, I authored the book “Mass Capitalism : A Blueprint for Economic Revival” to envision a system where both producers and consumers prosper. Only in such an economic system can problem of unemployment be eliminated and technology can be productively utilized such that it does not create problem of unemployment. Additionally, Only such a system can ensure that there is maximum utilization of capital and rational distribution of wealth in a free market way such that wages automatically catch up with productivity. I believe that Mass Capitalism is thus the wave of future for IoT based technological revolution.