Humans Need Not Apply | Jerry Kaplan

Summary of: Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
By: Jerry Kaplan


Welcome to the fascinating world of ‘Humans Need Not Apply’, where author Jerry Kaplan explores the transformational changes artificial intelligence (AI) brings to society. In this summary, you will discover how computers and machines are increasingly outperforming humans in various fields, using ‘forged laborers’ and complex algorithmic systems. You’ll learn about the evolution of AI from its beginnings in the mid-20th century to the sophisticated systems we have today and their impact on industries from finance to law. Additionally, you’ll uncover the possible consequences of ever-improving AI systems, including the potential widening of the wealth gap and the treatment of synthetic intellects as legal persons.

The Dark Side of AI

The emerging systems of artificial intelligence (AI) can outperform humans, adapt based on experience, and sense their environment. These synthetic intellects use unimaginable amounts of data to predict and act, making them difficult to comprehend even by their human makers. However, these changes are not only staggering but may also leave human workers behind. Wealthy individuals will be the ones benefiting from these changes as they continue to substitute capital for labor. Ergo, workers need future-ready, equitable, and transparent financial instruments to control their own assets.

History and Evolution of Artificial Intelligence

In 1956, a group of computing experts held a conference at Dartmouth College to explore the possibilities of artificial intelligence (AI). However, the approach to AI spooked IBM’s executives, who feared for their jobs. This led to early AI being limited to structured programming which was not very interesting. Lack of processing power limited the computers’ ability to solve complex problems which led to AI researchers opting for heuristics and “expert system” programming structures. However, AI took a different turn in the early 1980s with the introduction of multiprocessor systems and advancements in networking and computing power. Instead of relying on expert input, the new systems mined the growing yield of internet data. Innovations like IBM’s Jeopardy-winning Watson supercomputer were developed, and now we can carry the computing power of a Watson on our smartphones.

The Rise of Machines Beyond Humans

Robots and artificial intelligence (AI) will soon surpass human limitations and enhance various industries’ efficiencies, providing new and safe ways for humans to complete complex tasks. The incorporation of sensors and cameras, combined with machine perception and learning, can make robots more receptive to human needs and lessen the risk of putting human lives in danger. The use of machine-based military systems will provide a safer way to conduct warfare, while commercial machines enhance the efficiency of manual labor. Machines will be free of locality limitations and be able to perform complex tasks that humans cannot. Autonomous cars will communicate “vehicle to vehicle” and drive people home. The emergence of robotic prostitutes is also predicted. Finally, robots and AI will continue to advance and gradually replace human abilities beyond what we can imagine, gradually simplifying daily life activities, just as what we’ve seen from the advent of Google, Amazon, and Facebook.

The rise of High-Frequency Trading

In the 1980s, Morgan Stanley employed computer scientist Dave Shaw, who revolutionized stock analysis and trading through a multiprocessor approach to querying databases. Fast forward to today, high-frequency trading systems complete transactions thousands of times faster than humans, earning profits through the minute price differences between different exchanges. Despite smoothing the market, these systems worsen wealth inequality. Shaw’s firm, D.E. Shaw and Company, uses secretive analysis techniques to find such opportunities.

The Dark Side of High-Frequency Trading

HFT programs caused massive financial chaos in just a few minutes in 2010 when their activity wiped out more than 1,000 points off the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Investigations found that the problem began with a mutual-fund trade triggering various HFT program actions. Though HFT systems did their job, they caused financial chaos and instilled fear among traders. This technology has also invaded digital marketing where companies use synthetic intellects to run instantaneous auctions for advertising space, creating bidding wars once a tracking cookie gets onto your device.

Synthetic Intellects as Legal Persons

The emergence of synthetic intellects can make them morally responsible, just like companies deemed responsible for felonies. A day may come when legal systems may punish them by limiting their goals. Corporations already have “personhood” designation, which assigns rights and responsibilities to them. The law may treat synthetic intellects the same way, and granting them rights to own assets can lead to owners amassing vast fortunes. Insurers may push towards a “corporate wrapper” for synthetic intellects to limit their liability. Expect synthetic intellects to largely replace educated skilled trades and displace the need for most skilled labor.

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