NPF: DAVE, THIS CONVERSATION CAN SERVE NO PURPOSE ANYMORE

Posted in No Politics Friday on September 9th, 2011 by Ed

Just a quick pair of links to occupy your minds during the drudgery of another Friday afternoon at a job you probably hate but cling to desperately.

It's that time of the year again, the time for Ed to apply (fruitlessly, no doubt) for another batch of jobs. I am hardly the only person who works in a field in which jobs are disappearing. In many professions, technological advances are responsible for the disappearance of jobs that used to be considered desirable and rewarding. When I daydream about the big picture beyond my personal circumstances, I often wonder what will become of us when we can no longer avoid the contradiction between a growing population and a shrinking need for human labor. Are jobs, in short, becoming obsolete?

This idea takes me back to a 1993 essay by mathematician and sci-fi author Vernor Vinge, "The Coming Technological Singularity," which asks us to confront a future in which technology advances to the point of approximating or even surpassing human intelligence. We often doubt that any such artificial intelligence can be created, and based on current technology I share that skepticism. But look at where we are today and give it another 50-75 years or so. Tell me we won't get there eventually.