Even before the dawn of the industrial revolution, people have feared technology. Every new invention has been met with resistance, and the perception that machines would take our jobs. And maybe there's something to be said for that…
Over the years, machines have played a larger and larger part in removing jobs, but often these were jobs we didn't want to do in the first place. And more importantly, every technological advance has created an exponential explosion of new opportunities. Early on, when electricity was first introduced, people thought it was witchcraft. They feared getting electrocuted by their lightbulbs, and the lamplighters who illuminated the city streets by lighting the lamps along the road, knew their jobs were in jeopardy. Manual laborers also saw the writing on the wall. Before long, electricity had given us lightbulbs, and electric powered equipment.
Sure the Lamplighters and the manual laborers were out of work, but it created jobs such as electricians, engineers and an industry to manufacture, create and maintain electric powered equipment. Do you think those lamplighters miss walking empty and dark streets with a glorified candle in their hands?
When the telephone made its appearance, people freaked out. It was a tool of the devil. They thought telephones would make everyone lazy and completely cripple our social skills. Maybe there’s something to be said for that, but even though telegraph operators, messenger boys and traveling salesman lost work, we created a telecommunications industry that employees over 4 million people.
Is there anyone out there who would rather be tapping along on a telegraph as opposed to using a smart phone? Would you rather be a traveling salesman walking door-to-door in strange lands, or an online store that reaches out to millions of potential clients through the Internet? When the automobile arrived, it put carriage drivers, horses and blacksmiths out of work.
But it created jobs for chauffeurs, auto mechanics, gas station attendants and an automobile industry that currently employs over 7 million people. Just imagine crowded streets filled with horse drawn carriages during rush hour, the smell alone should be enough to turn you off.
You see, technological improvements may come with a price, but the benefits are usually well worth the cost. The television put radio actors out of work, or forced them to learn how to do their acts in front of a camera. Sure the fireside chats of FDR were quaint, but thank about the added benefit of being able to see the faces of our leaders.
Sure radio shows were fun, but it’s hard to argue with the impressive amount of entertainment and jobs created by television and film. When the Internet arrived it changed everything. We are still feeling the effects of this powerful technology. The Internet has savagely eliminated huge industries, and millions of jobs. Travel agencies are going under because it's easier to use Expedia.
Newspapers and magazines are struggling because it's easier (and cheaper) to read your news online. Record stores and bookstores have found it hard to stay afloat ever since iPods, smartphones and smart speakers made it easier to listen to ANY song you can imagine without leaving your chair.
And even the Postal Service has seen the effects as more and more people use email, Slack, text messages, What’sApp or any one of the other tools that replaced the handwritten letter and need for envelopes and stamps. But think about all the benefits.
Think about all of the amazing websites, apps, tools and opportunities the Internet has created. Geography is no longer an impediment to most businesses. The cost of communication has dropped to some of the lowest numbers in human history. The reach that you can achieve, and the connections that you can make, without getting in your car, or getting on a plane continue to pay massive dividends. So here comes AI. And the same old fears rear their head. Our jobs will get replaced…
The machines will take over… Don't be fooled. These are just the same fears. Sure, some jobs will be lost. Sure some people will have to learn new skills. But progress waits for no man, and if we don't learn how to properly utilize and harness the tools that are available, we will fall prey to fears and ignorance, and our jobs won't be the only thing we can lose. I've spent my life exploring and understanding technology.
I was here when the first personal computers were released, I watched the CD-ROM revolution, I saw the Internet bloom in front of me, I watched cell phones arrive and improve, and become smart phones. I've watched streaming networks become the predominant way we watch our entertainment. And so when I get asked whether I am afraid of AI, and whether it is too powerful for us, or will replace all of us, or will make art irrelevant… I push aside those fears. I've heard them before. And I choose to embrace change wholeheartedly, knowing that it is my job and responsibility to learn how to use these new tools appropriately, for my benefit and for the betterment of humanity.
Which side will you be on? Fear or opportunity?
This month in The MacWhisperer Academy will be diving deep into the latest AI tools to teach you how to use them properly, and to dispel some of the fears. If you would like to join click this link to sign up for the membership for $1 for the first month.
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