Artificial intelligence (AI) is freaking some people out.
The world’s richest man, Elon Musk, wants AI research to stop. Earlier this year, he and 1,100 others signed an open letter calling for a pause on “giant AI experiments.”
And did you see this recent cover of TIME magazine?
Doomsday prophets are shouting from the rooftops that rogue machines will wipe out humanity. Others think humanoid robots will steal all our jobs.
These folks couldn’t be more WRONG. And I have the facts to prove it.
Today, I’ll show you how to fight back against the four big AI myths you might overhear at your next cocktail party.
- Myth #1: AI will steal all our jobs.
Many folks are predicting AI will soon cause mass unemployment.
People have had this same concern for more than 100 years.
Look at this doozy of a headline from The New York Times in 1928, which suggested machines would soon put people out of work. I could show you a dozen more predictions just like it from every decade.
Source: The New York Times
But fears about machines making idle hands are centuries old.
When the first printed books with illustrations appeared in 15th century Germany, wood engravers rose up in protest. Worried that machines would put them out of a job, they stopped the presses.
Can you guess what happened?
Machines made it cheaper to produce books, which meant more people could afford them. And somebody had to illustrate all the new books… which led to a wood-engraving boom.
We’ve been deploying new technologies for centuries. Yet today, pretty much every American who wants a job has a job.
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Folks always think this “next” wave of automation will be the one that takes all the jobs. These negative Nancies need a history lesson.
If AI causes mass unemployment, it would be the first technology in history to do so.
Just one of the 270 occupations listed in the 1950 US Census was eliminated by automation: elevator operator.
It’s far easier to imagine someone losing their job to a breakthrough technology than it is to imagine many people gaining jobs that haven’t been invented yet.
But new inventions typically create many more jobs than they destroy. In fact, a recent MIT paper found roughly 60% of employment in 2018 was held in jobs that didn’t exist in 1940.
AI will create millions of good-paying jobs we can’t yet imagine.
- Myth #2: AI will wipe out humanity.
“Sometime in the next 15 years, the end will come.”
Take a stab at when this quote is from. It wasn’t this year… 2010… or even during the ’90s.
It’s from one of America’s top biologists… in 1968.
In The Population Bomb, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich argued Earth’s booming population would spell doom for humanity.
The number of people in the world has doubled since then. Yet, the mass famines Ehrlich predicted never happened.
The “overpopulation” crew died and were reborn as AI alarmists.
See, a certain percentage of people always latch onto the new, scary thing. For doomsday cultists, apocalypse lurks around every corner.
But the idea that chatbots will wipe out humanity is pure science fiction.
It started in 1818 with Frankenstein—a manmade beast that “came alive” and turned on his creator.
Then came the sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. The 1968 movie is best remembered for the intelligent supercomputer, HAL 9000. HAL could think just like a human and had the ability to scheme against anyone who threatened its survival.
Soon, novels like I, Robot packed our bookshelves. We crammed into movie theatres to watch The Terminator. We got stories of robots gone mad… mind-reading robots… robots with a sense of humor… and robots that secretly run the world.
AI doomers: Lay off the Terminator movies.
I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching and thinking about AI over the past few years. I’ve seen zero evidence it will destroy humanity.
- Myth #3: I must shield my kids from AI.
ChatGPT will end homework as we know it.
Already, it can write an essay on the American Civil War, in the style of a 10-year-old, in about 20 seconds. Term papers delivered on-demand.
This has already forced tutors at Northern Michigan University to cancel take-home exams. And schools in New York and elsewhere have outlawed the use of chatbots completely.
Will ChatGPT rot our kids’ brains and make them lazy? NO.
Teaching our children how to use AI tools like ChatGPT is one of the most valuable things we can do as parents.
By the time they’re hunting for jobs, knowing how to use AI will be as essential as knowing how to use a computer. You won’t be able to get by without it.
We’re seeing early inklings of this.
Copilot is an autocomplete tool for programmers built on ChatGPT. Instead of humans having to write every line of code themselves, the software predicts what they’re trying to code and offers suggestions.
Coders using Copilot finished tasks in 55% less time, on average. Imagine a tool that could boost your productivity by 50%. That’s a total game-changer.
There will soon be “Copilots” for lawyers, accountants, doctors, and everyone else.
All game-changing technologies have one thing in common: They automate basic tasks that free us up to do something more valuable.
For example, calculators freed up time spent memorizing rote algorithms for math problems. And that was a good thing!
Parents, let your kids “cheat” using ChatGPT. A decade from now, it might just land them their dream job.
- Myth #4: We must regulate AI now.
I told you Elon Musk and over 1,100 others recently signed an open letter calling for a pause on giant AI experiments.
They argue AI systems like ChatGPT could take all our jobs and even end civilization if we don’t proceed carefully. So, they suggest halting AI training for at least six months.
I couldn’t disagree more.
Although researchers have been developing AI since the 1950s, it’s still an early stage technology. And regulating nascent innovations is a terrible idea.
In 1865, British politicians passed a law regulating the use of “self-propelled vehicles.” In short, the law required drivers to have someone wave a red flag in front of the vehicle as a warning.
Britain was the wealthiest nation on Earth in the 19th century. It was a manufacturing powerhouse. In other words, the UK was the perfect place for the auto industry to flourish.
But crazy laws pushed innovation offshore. Today, 11 of the top 12 best-selling carmakers in the UK are foreign.
America should treat AI like it treated the internet.
The web has been the greatest disruptive trend of our lifetimes because the government largely left it alone and let it flourish.
Even when regulators enacted internet laws in the mid-’90s, they took a hands-off approach.
Now, imagine if politicians had drafted a 500-page “Internet Act” just as the web was ramping up.
You couldn’t have predicted Google (GOOGL), Facebook (META), or Uber (UBER) in the early ’90s. So, how could you pass laws to regulate them?
I bet the “Internet Act” would have included some silly rules killing these companies before they were even born.
AI is one of the most powerful disruptions of our lifetimes. It has the potential to be as big as the internet. But regulate AI now, and it’s “game over” for this latest innovation.
Chief Analyst, RiskHedge
PS: Which of these four AI myths has you most concerned? Are there any you disagree with? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the mailbag…
Yesterday, we heard from several readers who agreed with Stephen that the US is still one of the most innovative and welcoming places on Earth.
Here’s what one reader had to say:
“Stephen, this is excellent! My family got here about 300 years earlier and helped toss the Brits out and free the slaves, and later went back to help the Europeans get rid of the Nazis. All were regular folks. No wealth or aristocracy.
There is nothing like the USA! (And I have been to 100 countries and seven continents.)” —Todd
“Your note today was terrific and spot on. I was born in American, but have travelled extensively on business. Once you see both developed and emerging-market countries other than America, you begin to appreciate that this is the best place to pursue your dreams.
I have often said that instead of taking American school kids to Washington, DC to see our government in action, they should take them to Mexico, China, or India to see how the majority of those people live and why those who can study diligently to get the education that will allow them to come to American to go to university.
The average person in these countries has seen enough media to know that life can be so much better than the options they have where they live, and so they have the deep desire to do whatever is needed to get there.” —Chuck
Here’s Paul’s take:
“Thank you, Stephen. Your story gave me chills. I’m filled with gratitude and was born in Inglewood, California 66 years ago. America’s best days are ahead if we just look.” —Paul
Lastly, reader Stephen said:
“That was a good essay you wrote on July 4th about gratitude for the good parts of America. We forget those, or get caught up in the negativity of daily life. It’s not easy to ‘reframe’ our thoughts to focus on how lucky we are to have migrated or been bore here!
Thanks for sending a very personal message on this Independence Day!” —Stephen