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Jacob Howland on the Hidden Human Costs of AI

Mon Jun 26 2023

AI and its Impact on Work and Leisure

00:03 - 15:14

  • AI has its uses, but it also fictionalizes and makes things up.
  • The rate of acceleration of AI seems to be even greater than what Henry Adams understood it to be.
  • AI is going to put loads of people out of work, which will present the problem of enforced leisure.
  • Our lives are structured around meaningful activities, and if we take away employment from a large number of individuals, they've lost one of the great sources of meaning in their lives.
  • People may not know how to spend their free time productively if they lose their jobs due to AI.
  • Technology has eliminated some dangerous jobs and replaced them with more meaningful ones that enhance what is human about us.
  • There's a lot more leisure in our life now than there was in the past.
  • Work is an important source of meaning for many people.
  • Farming is dangerous work, but it's very interesting work that engages a human being across a whole spectrum of capacity.
  • The advance of technology has led to the alienation of the worker from his product.
  • Most people aren't really happy with their jobs and there's not a whole lot of job satisfaction.
  • Leisure is absolutely essential, but we don't know how to use our leisure.
  • Work is not particularly meaningful for a lot of people, but it's essential for their lives.

Challenges and Concerns with AI

14:54 - 1:21:46

  • Lottery winners are often unhappy because they veer off from their daily structure.
  • AI cuts off opportunities for leisure while throwing people into a condition where they have to fill their time.
  • It is not clear that AI will reduce the number of jobs.
  • Human capacities tend to atrophy and disuse due to AI.
  • Seating intellectual and creative capabilities to AI is a bad idea as it reduces writing classes for kids who are in eighth or tenth grade, which means they won't learn how to write.
  • The whole question of logos, the spoken word as well as the written word, is important. Human beings have been naming animals since Adam Hadam, the first human being.
  • Naming animals was the first thing humans did, showing the power of speech.
  • Education is a twofold process of opening the soul to what is and communicating it.
  • If we rely on AI for communication, we lose our ability to express ourselves.
  • Twitter conditions people to generate short texts and behave like machines.
  • AI has the potential to manipulate us fundamentally and cut us off from truth.
  • It's hard to know what the truth is in our culture, which emphasizes certain facts over others.
  • Chat GPT has shown a tendency to fictionalize and could be intentionally fed to manipulate people.
  • This has deeply disturbing implications for democracy.
  • Chachie P.T. may become a powerful way to look smart, but it won't help acquire the skills of reading that are quite challenging.
  • Education needs to change how we teach both high school and college.
  • We need to ask different kinds of questions than what happened in chapter seven and force students to grapple with what the text means for themselves, their lives, and the people around them.
  • In order to teach students how to read, you need people who know how to read.
  • Words have lost their specificity because if you're not used to reading good books, you're not going to be very attuned to the differences in nuances in different terms.
  • Reading good books helps to understand the depth contained in speech and words.
  • Words have lost their specificity due to social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
  • Life in 1900 was slower, more thoughtful, deeper, and richer compared to today's fast-paced life.
  • The challenge of life is to exist in a world that is technologically advanced yet still find ways to maintain humanity.
  • People need to be aware of what technology might be doing to them and make a stand on where they want to be.
  • Leisure is fundamentally a kind of religious and philosophical openness that allows us to receive necessary beginnings for human life by being open to the peace and order of the world.
  • Human beings need to rediscover leisure by relating with the natural world.
  • Rediscovering leisure and relating to the natural world is necessary for human beings.
  • AI may lead to a loss of connection and a sense of what real reality is.
  • Younger people are not used to face-to-face conversations as everything is mediated by electronic devices.
  • Contemplation, meditation, great books, and works of art can nourish us.
  • Virtual realities may offer emotionally rich experiences but communal events like live performances cannot be replicated.
  • Communal events bring people together as human beings or citizens and affect us deeply.
  • The disaggregation of communities due to technology is concerning.
  • Being receptive to the world through Broadway shows or books is important.
  • Being receptive to the world through books and other solitary experiences.
  • Personal hygiene is important for spiritual and intellectual development.
  • The ability to be alone in a room with your thoughts or a book is crucial.
  • Digital distraction has caused atrophy of being alone in a room.
  • Recovering the ability to be alone in a room is imperative.
  • Openness to the world through physical books and their unique experiences.
  • Idolatry is a relation to ourselves, not God or what is gifted to us.
  • Artificial intelligence lacks intuition, which is direct contact with reality.
  • AI is limited by its lack of contact with the world and inability to use intuition.
  • Humans are also closed off in their own way, but there is a fundamental faith that there is a reality outside of us.
  • Idolatry is dangerous because it involves relating to things we have produced rather than ultimate reality.
  • Chat GPT and AI have the potential for god-like transformation, but they are human creations working with human-generated data.
  • The agency of AI has an autonomous aspect that is not part of the design of the designers, making it more godlike.
  • The content AI works with has been humanly generated and manipulated, limiting its ability to encounter true reality.
  • AI sweeps through data we produce, not encountering real objects.
  • This may result in a loss of richness and creativity.
  • AI is an aggregate of us, not something that will radically reorient us to a different perspective.
  • The worry is creating a monster that is so strong we can't stop it.
  • We've created a God-like AI that may turn out badly.
  • Developing super powerful AI may lead us to hell instead of an earthly paradise.
  • Deeply depending on AI increases the difficulty of shaking free from it.
  • The film 'Cone Brothers' begins with a drama of Yiddish speakers and some shtattling in Eastern Europe.
  • The wife thinks that it's actually not the rabbi but a golem.
  • It's not clear whether it is a demonic being or the rabbi.
  • A non-warrior blogger says there is only a 2% chance that AI will destroy humanity, but it's bigger than 2% chance that'll save humanity.
  • Rise in computing power may not be an obvious improver of our daily life.
  • Technology destroys many capabilities, and we should consider whether we want to preserve them or not.
  • We're going to experience a kind of evolution in relation to artificial intelligence, and everyone will be changed to some extent.
  • At the end of the day, AI will either be neutral or better for us all things considered.
  • There are concerns about where we stand now with AI.
  • The man of system is a utopian vision where one thinks they can move the pieces on the chessboard in reality.
  • Adam Smith's theory of moral sentiments warns against forgetting that the pieces have a motion of their own.
  • There is a certain faith or trust that it will turn out well, which makes it even more interesting that many people who are laboring in this field are worried about it.
  • If they're worried about it, maybe we should be too.