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Artificial Intelligence: We never run out of work

Artificial Intelligence: We never run out of work

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Why don’t we run out of work even with artificial intelligence

WELT editor Krzysztof Kabalczynski WELT editor Krzysztof Kabalczynski

WELT editor Krzysztof Kabalczynski

Source: Berthold Fabricius

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Many stressed-out brain workers dream that the computer will give them back their free time. But the history of the Industrial Revolution teaches us that more automated processes do not lead to less work. On the contrary, the number of tasks often increases.

sIf there’s a computer scientist, a screenwriter and a lawyer at the bar – no, it won’t be a joke, but inevitably a conversation about artificial intelligence (AI) at some point. The possibilities of modern technology stimulate the imagination of those whose careers have been affected. Will everything get faster soon, will there be more free time, and will jobs involving text and images still pay well?

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Development is progressing rapidly. Microsoft is currently courting enterprise customers who should reserve AI functionality for their Office packages. Last week, Google introduced its improved AI model that even works on smartphones. Apple will likely follow suit in 2024.

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The outlook of many brain workers remains ambiguous. For most users, this technology initially elicits a state of euphoria over the seemingly limitless possibilities before a reality check shows the limits of its use. AI does not work alone, but it will be a tool for efficiency.

The greatest hope of many overworked employees and freelancers will quickly collapse: the entertainment community will not collapse. It’s actually much faster to program programs and write scripts and entries to files. But this will not translate into more free time.

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It will happen like the automation of manual labor: in the nineteenth century, the steam engine brought with it the expectation that the previous quantity of goods would now be produced by fewer people. As efficiency increased through the use of technology, the production of goods rose rapidly, but their value declined. Technology unleashed consumer society as well as the physical battles of world wars.

For individual businesses and workers, this meant that they had to dramatically increase their production of goods in order to secure their livelihoods. Increased efficiency alone does not lead to shorter working hours: the 35-hour workweek was essentially a powerful political achievement achieved by stronger unions – a century after the Industrial Revolution.

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More movies and experiences

Things will now happen to brain workers in a similar way to what craftsmen did before. For example in cinema: if the script is created in half the time and the AI ​​creates a large part of the images, the cost of producing the film will be much lower. Then it would be economically viable with far fewer viewers than today. As a result, streaming services will be inundated with movies – and as a result there will be fewer viewers per movie. So the individual writer, director and producer have to offer more in order to maintain their income. Because AI is available to everyone, it does not provide anyone with an individual advantage.

The logic applies to almost all fields. Programmers will develop more applications, but at cheaper prices. Lawyers will prepare correspondence quickly. Lawsuits and court cases have become cheaper and therefore more frequent.

Some professions are even at risk of almost extinction, such as translators. But the AI ​​will not be paid as private sector workers, they will simply have to look for another job – like many manual workers before them. We never run out of work.