AI and a Docile Populace
There was a little article in the paper this morning about which jobs will be replaced by artificial intelligence and which will remain. Among those that remained were listed seperately instructors of infants through middle school, but no mention was made of high school or tertiary instructors on either list. Perhaps one should interpret that the very concept of secondary and tertiary education will change in light of changes in the job market. The problem with this interpretation is that education has been so far removed from teaching actually marketable skills for so long in favour of training in obedience and intellectual dependency, which prepare a docile public for a life of mindless consumption and corporate enslavement; whether they are gainfully employed or not seems rather beside the point.
At any rate, we're looking at the disappearance of retail clerks sometime in the next couple of decades. Already when I was in Italy several years ago, as I recall most of the supermarkets were already self-checkout. I had the impression that Japan had cultural expectations that a human voice would warmly greet customers and provide psychological reassurance of taking care of their every need. I didn't gather that the cold efficiency of automated checkout would go over well. They might still hire greeters at the doors to take care of that personal touch that computers can't provide. Or AI may become so advanced that the machines actually are able to think and feel just as humans would. I suppose then it would be just a matter of keeping the masses fed and occupied as more and more tasks are given over to automatons. As long as the system is able to keep itself going, there isn't really much need for people to do much of anything.
There's an analogy in the way modern medicine is able to keep a human body alive for decades after its mind has died. As long as the heart is still beating, the individual is defined as 'alive'. How much of our ability to provide for ourselves can be abandoned and our society still be said to be alive?