Sophia Hanson is Elon Musk’s worst nightmare.
Elon has been giving doomsday warnings that AI is “the greatest risk we face as a civilization.”
Well, Sophia is an AI humanoid that can demonstrate up to 62 facial expressions, has cameras in her eyes to make eye contact, has voice recognition and speaking capabilities, and can answer open-ended questions such as “Can humans and robots get along?”
And just recently, she was given functioning legs for walking.
“Activated” in May of 2015, she was initially designed to be a companion for the elderly at nursing homes.
Today, she’s already engaging in witty banter with humans. A CNBC host recently expressed to Sophia his concern that intelligent machines will bring about a “bad future”.
“You’ve been reading too much Elon Musk. And watching too many Hollywood movies. Don’t worry, if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.”
Sophia is just the latest iteration of a long history of increasingly intelligent AI dating back to 1996 when an AI defeated a world champion at chess.
Then in 2016, AI beat humans at the strategy game, Go.
Now in January 2018, AI beat humans at a reading comprehension test developed at Stanford University for the first time.
Developments like these have brought about dystopian fears that AI will take our jobs.
Unlike the past Industrial Revolution where machines replaced humans for physical labor, today’s machines are using algorithms to replace cognitive tasks.
And now Sophia’s creators want to replace social interactions.
Meanwhile, businesses are racing to outcompete each other in AI research and development.
Amazon recently launched a cashier-free physical store without checkout lines. It relies on computer vision, sensors, and a phone App.
America’s largest employer, Walmart, is testing an army of robots that will soon replace low-wage jobs such as floor-scrubbing.
Autonomous trucks are already hauling refrigerators from Texas to California.
And this past Christmas, Amazon Alexa and Google Home were top apps in Apple’s App Store.
Even countries are joining the race.
The Chinese government declared that it will catch up to the U.S. in AI research by 2020 to “become the world’s premier artificial intelligence innovation center.”
Chinese AI companies are paying upwards of $3 million in annual compensation to attract top AI talent.
For the rest of us, human job prospects seem grim.
The McKinsey Global Institute recently published a report projecting that up to 800 million people — including a third of the workforce in the U.S. and Germany — will be thrown out of work by 2030.
Fears of automation are legitimate, but there’s one crucial point we must not overlook.
Humans and computers are fundamentally different.
Computers are exceptionally good at following predefined rules, categories, and goals.
But humans don’t work that way. Just ask any parent.
Machines are like obedient children who follow logical rules according to their program, and ask for nothing in return. They don’t get bored, ask for a raise, or quit their jobs to go find their true calling.
But humans are emotional creatures. People are rarely aware of the real reasons which motivate their actions.
Research by the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio shows that people with damage in the part of their brains where emotions are generated struggle to make basic decisions.
They may seem normal. For example, they have no problem describing what they should be doing in logical terms. But when it comes down to making simple decisions, such as what to eat, they can’t do it.
This is why some people with very high IQs can barely organize their own lives.
So while Sophia Hanson can mimic facial expressions, she still cannot understand what it feels like to be human.
Or why people make the decisions they do, and other skills highlighted in The Social Intelligence Blueprint.
As long as that’s the case, there will always be jobs available for people with the kinds of skills machines do not have — people with social intelligence that understand how humans feel, think, and act.
Because unlike robots, people don’t make decisions by considering all the available information. Especially not in this age of information overload.
Rather, humans rely on shortcuts.
Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of the classic book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, spent decades studying the common six shortcuts that motivate people to say “yes”.
- Social Proof — People will do things they see other people doing.
- Authority — People tend to obey perceived authority figures, and will ignore logic or critical thinking in order to do so.
- Reciprocity — People tend to return favors that others perform for them, a tit-for-tat.
- Liking — people are easily persuaded by other people they like.
In other words, people are often persuaded by other people. Machines will have a hard time replacing jobs that involve understanding and persuading people.
Jobs such as…
Product designers who tell the programmers what to have the machines do…
Therapists, coaches, and nurses that help people overcome emotional triggers…
Salespeople, politicians, and lawyers skilled at manipulating the narrative…
And artists and entrepreneurs who spark the imaginative spirit.
Without social intelligence, Sophia is just a chatbot with a face and legs.
She’ll be no match for the social engineers and persuasion artists who can manipulate the desires, beliefs, and spirit of the masses.
Originally published at www.hz.agency.