In a time of exponential change and dislocation, with job functions being automated and algorithms doing more of the work humans used to do, will people be ‘useless’ as Prof. Harari claims?
It is disturbing and even dangerous to listen to people as Prof. Harari saying that ‘in few years from now people will be useless’. Think of the impact and consequences of such statements, he make teens feel as if they are indeed ‘Useless’ and that there is no hope and when there is no hope… One of the earliest known associations between the media and suicide arose from Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther. Soon after its publication in 1774, young men began to mimic the main character by dressing in yellow pants and blue jackets. In the novel, Werther shoots himself with a pistol after he is rejected by the woman he loves, and shortly after its publication there were many reports of young men using the same method to kill themselves in an act of hopelessness, it is known as the Werther effect. Are we soon to face the #Hararieffect ?
The Harari Effect
Think, all it takes is for young people is to be convinced enough in the credibility of Harari’s storytelling about the future and then adopt a new form of a social behavior which will have negative implications. If only (Prof.) Harari had a little of Harry’s (Potter) imagination it would be a great IMPACT to the world. The world needs a bit of MAGIC; as we all know that if you want to change a culture in a generation time you would change the way it educates its children and YES give them HOPE.
I can’t blame Prof. Harari, I can see his meaning, he understands the name of the game as spicing up his thoughts with a bit of conspiracy theories and provoking words will do great to the total flavor of his books and add to the pockets of his publishers. I truly hope that he will move humans toward taking the right actions, such as choosing best future leaders based on real world challenges and not made up ones and that we all be able to minimize socio-economic gaps between societies and countries, but for that all we need is a bit of IMAGINATION.
We all know that today, most of us have jobs that did exist 40 or 50 years ago and we use computers in them, to be sure, and that’s a real change. It takes a real lack of imagination to say something as ‘Useless’, maybe in the current economic model it makes sense, and this is not new, but not from a future socio-economical system perspective. When the car appeared, horses became ‘Useless’, but horses lack imagination, it’s a known fact, and this is why I think there is much for us to do rather be considered ‘Useless’ and take it as granted.
Most of the discussion around disruption these days revolves around jobs and work but are we blind to see that digital technology and robots are taking our leisure already? It’s defiantly changing how we play and relax more than it’s changing how we work and produce. So what the implications to this, as an average Israelis and Americans spend about 23 percent of their waking hours watching television, reading, or gaming. With Netflix, HDTV, Kindles, iPads, and all the rest, these are certainly activities that look drastically different in 2018 than they did in 1998 and can easily create the impression that life has been revolutionized by digital technology. So you see, technology has already completely changed the way we are, but did it make us ‘Useless’?
The question going forward is not whether we’re to be Useless or not — use some imagination — it is surely — What will future jobs and life be like?
BORN — PLAY — DIE
What we all need to understand is that automation and AI are destroying jobs, not work. Then who really knows what future jobs and life will be like? Let us look at this question from a different perspective:
How would you define your life cycle? You are born, you live and then die.
BORN — LIVE –DIE
This is how it is. Now take a closer look into your life, what do you see?
STUDY — WORK — RETIRE
And the New Dogma in a Post Humanist Era:
BORN — PLAY — DIE
Wait! Wait! Wait! How did we get there?
You study, work and then retire, but we all know that the Study, Work, Retire Model Is Broken, then, what is next?
When thinking of it, what does it mean, study, work, retire?
Study — you are still young, so you should listen and behave.
Work — you must practice your skills and give back to society.
Retire — we don’t need you anymore, you are not useful — so step aside.
Even when human will live longer and those three stages of life extend, we study longer, ‘work’ longer or maybe dedicate more time to be with our family and friends, volunteer longer and play longer and then die. The more I think of it the more I realize that this model is not only broken but completely wrong. Think, all your life you dream of gain experience, listen, learn, travel and practice skills but then you find yourself doing work you have no interest in and for someone’s else benefit, so you experience all types of midlife crisis and then one day you find yourself cast aside only because of your chronological age and with nothing to do with your biological age- why?
Is that so?
What if ‘PLAY well’ means to SURVIVE in the Post Humanistic era rather than WORK?
The Past, Present and Future met in the playground to discuss about a very important issue. What happens when we get old? We all sooner or later get there. Right?
“Grandpa Chicken crossed the street, and got hit by a truck, why was he hit by a truck?” asked The Past
“Who knocks?” — replied The Present
“It may be that he did not plan ahead or maybe he crossed the road in red light and was run over by an autonomous truck? Maybe he did not calculate distance right?” — said The Future.
Moral: We need to plan ahead on a personal and a national level. We need to calculate the risk and we need to calculate the cost. In the digital age, we must convert philosophical and ethical questions into concepts that AI and machines are capable of “understanding” and acting upon them. For example what shall we do with humans that think that other humans are Useless?
As we celebrate 70 years independence to the state of Israel, at this milestone, it is a time to reflect on the promise and the vision of this unique and extraordinary society, its people, and its path ahead.
How and who will write the future stories to be told in a land that is home to so many different, complex narratives?
Is “Hope” as the Israeli Hymn a value to follow or to lead?
How to build an optimistic society? ; An optimistic humanity?
By asking new questions we could find the courage and creativity to find new answers.
Raising humanity on a new path
It all starts with YOU!