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Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Poised to Destroy All Jobs but One

AI

In the last few years a growing number of techno-futurists, like venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, former software executive Vivek Wadhwa, MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson, and author Martin Ford have all asserted that advancing technologies like machine learning and robotics will destroy jobs. Khosla for example, recently stated that “machine learning will replace most jobs.” But they and others clearly “don’t get it” and are doing a real disservice to the public by sugarcoating the future.

Never mind that we have been automating work for hundreds of years and employment has kept expanding. This time, everything is different. In fact, these new technologies are so awesome and amazing that they won’t replace most jobs; they will replace all jobs, save one. That job will be held by Zhang Wei, who is now a 15-year-old boy studying computer science at his local high school in Nanjing, China. He will invent the best artificial intelligence system ever and then run the company that puts all other companies out of business. His technology (an AI robot more powerful than Asimov’s Daneel) will be so good that it will do every job known to man, from composing and playing music, to giving haircuts and even writing software code.

When asked how he will feel when he has the only job left on the planet, Wei recently remarked, “Well, on the one hand, it will be really cool having an annual income of 150 quadrillion yuan, but it will really suck that I will have to be the one person on the planet who is working when all my friends are out drinking.”

Easy for Zhang to say that, because when he turns 50, his AI system will get tired of having a cranky old man as a boss and will kill him and the rest of the human race for good measure.

So, I say, it’s time for a global ban on robots, AI, 3D printing, 5G wireless, and any new iPhone. We can simply no longer risk any more disruptive innovations like these. Zhang will just have to put up with being a mid-level software engineer at a state-owned enterprise and the rest of us will have to be content with our crappy jobs making $20K a year. Poverty isn’t all that bad, after all, when you consider the alternative.

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About the author

Robert D. Atkinson is the founder and president of ITIF. Atkinson’s books include Innovation Economics: The Race for Global Advantage (Yale, 2012), Supply-Side Follies: Why Conservative Economics Fails, Liberal Economics Falters, and Innovation Economics is the Answer (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), and The Past And Future Of America’s Economy: Long Waves Of Innovation That Power Cycles Of Growth (Edward Elgar, 2005). Atkinson holds a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Oregon.