5 ways to face the present and the future

Humans think in terms of storytelling, and the simpler it is, the better.

In the twentieth century there were three great narratives: the fascist one, the communist one and the liberal one. The first was wiped out by the Second World War, at the end of the eighties the communist one collapsed, the third, which had remained the only one to dominate, has disappeared now: people no longer believe that guaranteeing full freedom for all represents the solution. of all evil.

The liberal narrative has created great expectations, which have been respected in the past, but today young people can consider themselves lucky if they manage to maintain the current living conditions. Without a narrative that explains the future, we are confused and led to think in apocalyptic terms.

Added to this is an increasing inability to keep up with technology, even in the delicate financial sector. What will happen when artificial intelligence makes it impossible for most people to understand finance? What political repercussions will there be when a country’s budget has to be approved by an algorithm?

Globally, the masses feel they are losing relevance and we can see the will to have a global narrative diminishing by looking at Trump who proposes the return to an isolationist America, to England that chooses Brexit, to China that rediscovers the original historical tradition .

It is time to work on a new narrative, capable of managing the dual revolution, computer science and biotechnology, which will gain momentum in the coming decades and will have an impact on the lives of all of us. To do this we must go from panic to perplexity: we must admit that we do not know what is happening in the world.

Design new models to face the change in the world of work

Humans have two types of skills: physical and cognitive.

In the past, machines were competing with humans on the physical plane, today (and increasingly) they are also in the cognitive field: scientists are able to  hack  humans and artificial intelligence is able to overcome human performance in many areas, including in fields traditionally linked to the use of intuition.

In addition, while humans are individuals and act individually, machines can easily be connected and integrated into a flexible and powerful network. It would be madness to be against automatic driving: 90% of the accidents that cause 1.25 million deaths a year in the world are attributable to human error: driving in a state of drunkenness, distraction, speeding. In other words, self-driving vehicles could save a million lives a year.

Artificial intelligence can cancel many jobs, especially those that require repetitive tasks, but also create new ones: think of drones. The US military has replaced some pilots with drones, but 30 specialized technicians are needed to manage a single Predator, and 8 analysts are responsible for analyzing the data it produces.

The problem is the level of preparation that requires occupying these new jobs: in 2050 a cashier will not be able to quickly become an analyst. We could witness the birth of an army of useless workers, a condition aggravated by the lack of stability: there could be millions of people forced to “reinvent themselves” periodically to stay on the job market.

It is necessary to anticipate the problem and try to design new models for an “after work” society. A hypothesis that is gaining consensus is that of the universal minimum income, combined with a rethinking of what we call work: applying this definition to activities such as helping neighbors or taking care of children.

In Israel, about half of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men do not work, but devote their lives to the study of the Holy Scriptures. Wives work, but it is the government that assists them with subsidies and services. Lay people often say they are against this form of assistance, but the affirmation of artificial intelligence could push us to overturn the paradigm and recognize that this is the correct model to follow.

The ultra-Orthodox are poor and unemployed, but their level of personal satisfaction is very high. A room crowded with Talmud scholars is full of joy, a textile factory full of exploited workers certainly not.

The advent of artificial intelligence could help us change for the better.

Artificial intelligence will have to build a bridge between online and offline

Where can Big Data take us? The computing power that allows you to examine every possibility before making a decision can create algorithms capable of choosing for us.

But if we completely pass the authority to Google Maps, we can end up in the water, as happened to the Japanese tourist Yuzu Noda who in 2012, during a trip to Australia, ended up in the Pacific because the GPS had said that he could reach his goal, a island by car.

On the other hand, algorithms can make ethical decisions, not clouded by stress, prejudices, selfishness. Think of a job interview done by a computer programmed not to take sex, race, religion into consideration.

In terms of data and freedom, we are on dangerous ground. Already today, when a Palestinian travels, telephones or publishes on Facebook, he is checked and his “traces” are collected and analyzed. This allows Israel to detect and neutralize potential threats, but it can create serious problems: in October 2017, a Palestinian worker published a photo of him alongside a bulldozer with the word “good morning”, which for an algorithm error was read as “Kill”, and the man was arrested. What Palestinians in the West Bank are experiencing could be what will happen to the world in a few decades.