Does AI represent a radically new direction for humanity? Or is it simply the latest iteration of a myth structuring our world into a hierarchy that glorifies the divine at the expense of the mundane?
Primitive hunter-gatherers, given the broad range of tasks they had to carry out to survive, have a skill set more immune to the “cognitive” smarts of new AI technologies than a highly educated, highly specialized service worker! This reveals something about both the nature of AI and the nature of the division of labor in contemporary capitalism. It helps us understand that AI systems are best viewed as idiot savants, not Renaissance Men.
As machines creep ever further into work that requires thinking and judgment, human creativity, interpretation, emotions, and reasoning will become increasingly important. STEM may just lead to its own obsoleteness, and in doing so increases the value of professionals trained in the humanities.
Heard of National Novel Generating Month? Algorithms are being used to create texts not written by humans that are hauntingly beautiful.
An alumna of Stanford’s Comparative Literature department, Kathryn Hume currently leads sales and marketing for Fast Forward Labs, a machine intelligence research company, and teaches courses on law and technology at the University of Calgary. You can subscribe to her regular newsletters and updates at www.fastforwardlabs.com.