Humans Need Not Apply

Wealth & work in the age of artificial intelligence

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Hi Product Hunt, I’m Jerry Kaplan – the old dude with the gray hair grinning in the picture. Here’s a little background. The boring bio is that I co-founded four Silicon Valley startups, two of which became publicly traded companies. My non-fiction novel “Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure” was named one of the top ten business books by Business Week. I’ve been profiled in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Week, Red Herring, and Upside. I’ve got street cred: a Ph.D. in Computer Science from U of Pennsylvania, I’m a visiting lecturer in Computer Science at Stanford where I teach ethics and impact of Artificial Intelligence, and I’m a fellow at The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics, whatever that is. The fun bio: I’ve got four girls ages 16-22. Two just got their first jobs, one for Udacity and one doing social media promotion for restaurants. (The latter thinks Erik Torenberg is super cool!) Neither profession existed when they were entering high school, which is a great indication of why our system of education (at least with respect to vocational training) is so messed up, and why wrote my new book. The book is not what you think it is. It’s full of amazing stories, for instance about my creepy old rich and famous tech industry friends, contrasted with a detailed description of how the American Dream was nothing more than a fairy tale for my former Admin Assistant. My last bestseller, “Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure” nearly got me run out of town, particularly after I sold the movie rights to Sony Pictures. I’ve done a lot of thinking about what’s real and what bull around AI, so AMAway. Bring your tin foil hat if you believe in the Singularity!
It is my pleasure to introduce Jerry Kaplan for an AMA today at 1pm PST. Jerry is a Silicon Valley technologist, serial entrepreneur, technical innovator, bestselling author, and futurist. His latest book is "Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence”. AMA about whether your kids will marry a robot, what Steve Jobs was like, among other cool topics. Ask questions in advance... :)!
Hi Jerry - I'm reading more and more about the automation of community forums. PR companies paying folks to promote products in comment sections, political pundits spamming message boards, Twitter bots entering every online giveaway they can find, invisible girlfriends that will text and email you. Are there situations where someone would see the benefit of creating artificial intelligence agents to enter any of these communities?
@jeffumbro These developments are an unfortunately side effect of technology. The purpose of social media should be to be social -- which means person to person. The rest is simply spam, highjacking the bandwidth for (mostly) commercial purposes. Who wants to date a robot!
Hi @jerry_kaplan This is one of my favorite subjects, especially as AI injects itself further into my field of study; marketing technology, via predictive analytics mostly. I'm fortunate enough to be able to talk to some smart people on this topic, and I look forward to reading your new book. Here's my question: Patrick Ehlen at Loop AI Labs said this: "The Machine Apocalypse scenario is the minority view of some admittedly very smart people who may or may not know the future of AI. One thing we know for certain is that anything that is effective at doing good is also effective at doing evil." And when Pew Research canvassed 1,895 experts in the field on the economic, and social impact of AI and robotics between now and 2025, they were almost exactly split on how bleak the future is. Half said it was "bad," citing a future where machine intelligence grows to the point where it increases economic disparity. Where do you stand on that argument? Do you expect AI to widen social, cultural, and economic gaps, replacing blue/white-collar workers within the next 10 years? Or are we talking about technologies that, while achievable, will still take several generations to become mainstream enough to cause any widespread change?
Wow great question. The emergence of intelligent machines certainly raises questions about our own consciousness. I've read extensively on this subject (so you don't have to), and the plain truth is that we have no idea what consciousness is. There's a perfectly reasonable argument that it's some sort of illusion, or at least that the belief we have in its existence has some evolutionary purpose. Assuming you're conscious, this may sound ridiculous, but as Nick Bostrom hilariously argued (because he made such a good case), there's a good chance we don't exist at all in the conventional sense but are simply living in a simulation. Welcome to the Matrix? He seriously argues for this possibility.
@jerry_kaplan Illuminating response. Wish I could talk to you about this topic all day. :-)
Meant as reply to @melissajoykong !