There has been a lot of talking about AI recently and its impact on society, especially with regard to employment. Some believe that many jobs will be replaced by robots — those famous algorithms — in a not so far future. Others already provide for a universal income for those left behind by technology.
It is true that the risk exists and that AI could well disrupt society on many levels, but we should not forget that it could also create jobs, some of which we do not expect. We must therefore prepare for this today. The industrial revolution of the 19th century caused many upheavals in society, but it also created new jobs that had not been anticipated.
Without going into these details, I would like to make one important point: even if major companies such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon already offer training in AI and its progeny — Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Co. -, even if continuing education sessions are available to everyone in the IT field, we must start by educating the youngsters in anticipation of a future potentially invaded by AI and its avatars. Personally, I think that we should even proceed to a comprehensive review of the school curriculum in some countries, such as Lebanon where I live, so as not to miss the train that is inexorably leading us to a future society potentially governed by AI. In this respect, it is especially necessary to have a curriculum that encourages children’s imagination, a curriculum based on the Humanities and IT with Science as a catalyst and a zest of entrepreneurship. The university should take over adequately to train young people with a solid background for this coming future. Universities should act as a bridge between schools and the business world.
We must not panic. Just as the birth of writing relieved our memory of a heavy burden — to the great displeasure of the Ancients in the Antiquity — just as the Internet caused upheaval on many levels, so too will the AI be useful to us many levels. This is a new shift in the cognitive paradigm.
The problem is that currently, a tiny part of society is acting in the right direction and the other part is panicking and does not appreciate the impact of AI on society. We have the following situation:
A current education, still traditional, is forming a society already overwhelmed by sophisticated technology and there is no feedback from this new situation on this current education so that it may change its course adequately. We are not aware of this evolving situation. We continue to apply the same methods that are two centuries old and, inevitably, we are not progressing as we should.
Action must be taken immediately, first by learning (about) AI and then by taking appropriate measures in order not to be overtaken.