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Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence Hardcover – August 4, 2015
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Kaplan begins by offering the non scientific reader (me) a clear overview of the AI advances that are poised to make human workers obsolete--offering eye popping examples explaining how the pace of technology is destined to overwhelm the human landscape of life and work.
He then charts the changes that span FAR more than driverless cars. Mechanical robots (or what Kaplan calls "forged intelligences") will be more adept (and. of course, far more cost effective) than humans at performing every routine job from collecting our garbage to stocking our grocery shelves (and make those physical stores quaint relics of the past). "Synthetic intelligences" (machines that think and analyze information) will outwit humans at making complex diagnoses or writing legal briefs--automating out many of the hapless law school or medical students spending decades accumulating those mountainous student debts .
So far readers may be saying " I know all that stuff". Actually, you don't. The real gem of this book is that Kaplan CALCULATES how many people enter the workforce with those mountains of debt and compares their expected salaries. He analyzes the current employment situation for new law school grads and other "knowledge workers". He offers a wealth of data documenting how many jobs are going to be lost... beginning with that prime exemplar (AKA job wrecker), Amazon. I always wanted to know how Amazon evolved, the truth about this behemoth's business model, and how many jobs Amazon has automated out... In this book you will actually get these statistics and much more, as well as learning exactly why those standard government "job growth projection" stats are apt to be totally wrong.
In other words, as you read in these other reviews , this book is all about income inequalities and what we can do to in Kaplan's words to slow the transition to making "America the Land of the Pharaohs" ( You ain't seen nothing yet). In fact the chapter--of this title- describing the lifestyles of Kaplan and his much richer colleagues versus one of his hardworking employees is the best in- the- flesh description of income inequalities I've read.
Kaplan has the huge advantage of personally knowing these billionaire Silicon Valley movers and shakers--in addition to having a birds eye seat on how these technologies evolved. But, most important, he has a gift for bringing it all home through creative analogies and zinger-like sentences that had me rolling on the floor. So if you like Jared Diamond, or even if you don't know who he is, you will LOVE this landmark book.
P.S. I've omitted the fact that Kaplan also suggests answers.. that is, he devises highly innovative policy suggestions to make playing field less steep that come closer to attacking the roots of the problem and go well beyond the current mantras such as increasing access to college or raising the minimum wage......
Reading the introduction, this reviewer was happy to see that this is the type of book the author himself wrote with the purpose of fulfilling. On p. 16 of the introduction (hardcopy edition), Dr Kaplan writes: “ My goal in this book is to equip you with the intellectual tools, ethical foundation, and psychological framework required to successfully navigate these challenges [challenges of seeing how technology will impact employment]…Of course many talented and thoughtful writers have already rung the alarm about the risks of recent technological advances…My goal here is to add a different voice to the growing chorus of concern, mine from the perspective of the technology entrepreneur.”
Dr Kaplan then goes about putting forth the argument, very persuasively, that technological advances on many fronts will lead to massive unemployment. For example, self-driving automobiles and trucks will put millions of vehicle drivers out of work and DIDO technology (distributed input, distributed output) will put the installers of internet cables out of work. He believes that this automation will lead to very widespread unemployment and will threaten the livelihoods of the overwhelming majority of the workforce. The proverbial 99% to be more exact. This is the same conclusion reached by every one of the other authors mentioned above.
The only disappointing fact in this book is that the discussion of the relevant technologies is not very in-depth. For a much more in-depth analysis this reviewer highly recommends the other books cited above, in particular Ford’s “The Rise of the Robots” instead. Then again Ford’s book, as most of the other books mentions above, are about double the length of Kaplan’s. Ford’s book for example, is about 370 pages in length (full size text pages) while Kaplan’s is less than half that (about 210 small pages).
Dr Kaplan then goes about spelling out a possible “solution” to this problem. This is two pronged. One involves granting workers a kind of mortgage grant in terms of education spending that will enable them to re-tool. This is analogous to Milton Friedman’s idea of the govt providing people with educations and, simultaneously, making the payback terms a function of their future income streams. However there are 2 problems here. The first is that technology does not advance so quickly that that workers cannot gain skills quicker than they are rendered obsolete by technology. Secondly, that there are actually positions to train for. Hence this solution is very problematic.
The second half of the prong involves granting workers a capital ownership interest in the companies producing the automation. This will provide those workers with dividend incomes that will enable them to survive in a world with massive unemployment. Plus it will not deter their incentives to work (the dividend payments would not be very high) and the incentives for technological progress would not be negated.
This sounds nice but does have a number of problems associated with it, unfortunately none of which the author examines. One is that the owners of these companies would have to agree with having their ownership in their own companies seriously diluted. A second problem would be that doing this may so inflate capital ownership that the returns of capital would be significantly curtailed, thus making it difficult for this strategy to provide the unemployed (the overwhelming majority of society) with a sufficient income to to survive on.
Thus Dr. Kaplan’s solution seems very weak. Then again so do those of many of the other authors mentioned above to the problem of massive unemployment. For example, Brynjolfson and McAfee, as solutions, recommend massive increases in educational spending and a distribution of income via a more progressive tax regime. Lanier proposes that companies benefiting from the use of individual’s “data” provide those individuals with an income stream for its use (there is no discussion of whether or not this will be enough to provide the unemployment with an income to survive though). Ford proposes the Austian Economist Frederick Hayek’s idea of a “minimum income” whereby capital owners will be taxed (presumably heavily) in order to distribute income to the unemployed. Of course this implies that the wealthy are willing to do this without a fight or that they do not support a Pinochet of Franco to prevent this very thing from happening. Not something to have great confidence in.
In short, the book comes to the same conclusion as many other authors regarding the impact of technology on employment and provides a different “solution” to the problem albeit this solution has significant problems as do the solutions proposed by the other authors mentioned above. Not a book to inspire much confidence in the future in. Then again the facts seem to be such that a dystopian future lies in the future for much of humanity.
Kaplan also is clearly a rich tone def White guy. His resurrection of US Slave law as a precedent for robot or AI law is shockingly ignorant. Similarly, his ideas about why people work and the risks relating to automation for marginalized and working people lack any depth.
Overall it was a quick read and the book introduced me to some basic ideas about AI that are important to understand. The other half of the book should have been edited out.
Top international reviews
I have just read Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford, and Geoff Colvin has also written Humans are Underrated.
I am therefore marking this book very much on the basis that it cost me sixteen pounds for the Kindle edition and similar books are available for a lot less.
It covers very similar ground to the Ford book, often using the same examples and anecdotes. Where Ford uses a fairly objective approach, Kaplan is entirely personal in his approach. If you check his wikipedia page, Kaplan is a remarkable person and his insights are worth hearing.
However this is a pretty short book, and Kaplan would have been far better to work with a professional writer to produce a book that took the time to flesh out the topics that readers are likely to be interested in, and trim back some wordy excesses.
This is not a bad book, but it is not great, and Rise of the Robots is twice as good for half the price.
I bought this to use as part of my research on robotics
On the contrary it is a book that describes the historical development of AI. Jerry displays how the view of and the usage of AI has changed over the years since mid of the 20th century. He does this using some amusing and interessting stories about involved people and companies. In addition, he shows where AI is already present in our daily live. He explains the impact AI will have on our future according to his expectation, especially how it will transform our labour market and social welfare. I like this book very much and can only recommend it.
Useful read for anyone who is interested in a balanced view on the topic. Jerry doesn't take the extreme position of 'we are doomed' like Musk or Hawking (though both are on to something) or the relaxed position of Zuckerberg (who is either skimming too much money off the thing or may simply not know what he is talking about).
The book is well written, though the last chapter (before the Outroduction) drags a bit. But that should not deter you from getting some wonderful insights into what is going on. Worth a read.
Die Vernetzung und die Komplexität dieser zielgesteuerten Datenkraken wächst exponentiell (O-Ton Paypal-Gründer Elon Musk). Sie lassen sich zunehmend schwer beherrschen und erst recht nicht mehr abschalten. Noch sind sie programmiert, um selbstständig Wege zu Zielen zu finden, die Menschen bestimmt haben. Wann kippen die ersten programmierten Zielzustände ins Ungewollte und Unkontrollierbare? Die Systeme werden welche Ziele immer verfolgen. Ohne Bewusstsein, ohne Gefühle, aber mit für Menschen unerreichbarer Durchschlagskraft.