Four For Friday | May 12, 2023
LF47 | A Marxist theme throughout today's piece, as AI is set to accelerate capital vs worker tensions, innovative immigration policies and NFT artifacts.
Welcome to a Looking Forward’s Four For Friday. Four things that have piqued my interest this week relating to systems change, healthy longevity and / or Web3. Enjoy!
AI’s threat: a society dominated by shareholders, not Terminators
Insightful piece in The New Yorker about the dangers of AI. Rather than the fears of a super-sentient AI overthrowing its masters, going rogue and toppling humanity, this essay argues that AI’s danger is who it serves, not what it does.
As we know, AI, like any tech, is neutral. However it’s the capital owners, not the workers, who are deploying it at scale, likely resulting in an accelerating and unsustainable gulf between capital owners and labour. Unless we have stakeholder (not shareholder) capitalism, expect AI to lead greater efficiency, greater profits and greater societal dis-harmony. One caveat here is in aging services, where we need all the efficiencies we can get, as there are no new workers.
Australia opens immigration to aged care workers
Speaking of the care crisis, Australia has made the smart move to open immigration for ‘aged care’ (aka senior care) workers. Over a third of the sector’s workers identify as ‘culturally or linguistically diverse’ and this measure aims to reduce the visa uncertainty, giving migrants a two-year path to permanent residency. I imagine other countries with tight immigration policies (hello, Japan) may look at this closely.
African AI workers
In a reminder that a lot of AI today requires a large number of people in back rooms laboriously labelling random content, some of it vile and disturbing, 150 low paid AI workers in Africa have voted to unionise. I doubt whether this group is irreplaceable (either by other workers, us as willing data providers, or ever-smarter AI itself), but it’s a rare blow, and PR coup, for the worker in this otherwise very capitalist story.
What’s one thing that is the ultimate scarcity? Time. Hong Kong English language publisher South China Morning Post is minting NFTs of its newspaper front pages after 1997, when the island was handed over by the British. Expect to see a marketplace for NFTs that allow you to buy a slice of history (although there’s some debate about whether that’s what NFTs actually do…).
That’s all for this week. As always, feedback welcome. Feel free to share insights or links of interest.
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