Winner Take All Markets and Why The Future of Work is Not Promising in the Arts
In Life 3.0: On Being Human in the Age of AI, Max Tegmark spends some time on the topic of how to advise young people approaching their careers.
What should a 14-year-old study or learn or practice if she intends to be competitive in a given industry or field?
Beyond the fairly well understood areas where automation will eliminate work, Tegmark describes other less-discussed fields and roles. The discussion is quite exhaustive, so I recommend going to the text itself.
Tegmark humorously describes how his self-worth is not put into question when machines can make better clothing than he can. (In fact, Tegmark nearly flunked a knitting class as a youth.)
But the rise of AI could eventually eclipse the abilities that make Tegmark valuable in the job market.
Tegmark asserts that roles that have creativity and autonomy are areas to look into.
Deep reinforcement learning agents could change things
Deep reinforcing learning agents similar to the likes of Deep Mind’s conquering of Breakout or Alphago’s domination of the world’s best Go players suggests even creative fields could be in jeopardy.
I have played with Robin Sloan’s writing assistant (“assistant” used quite liberally), which draws on millions of words of the science fiction canon to give recommended finishes to your sentences when you get momentary writer’s block. I had fun using it as a creative inspiration. Sometimes, the neural network-based AI provided clunky suggestions, but it wasn’t that far off from creating some interesting strings of letters and words.
Why couldn’t this AI, when improved as a deep reinforcing learning agents, progressively improve and write better than the best human writer or storytellers alive today?
Part of my self-worth as a human comes from my discovery and effort in writing fiction.
Will the impact of an AI that can write fiction affect my self-worth and great writers’ ability to make a living doing so?
Winner take all
Even if AI does not eventually create better movies than humans (as fictionalized in Tegmark’s opening chapters), the storytelling and general entertainment marketplace is likely to narrow increasingly to a winner-take-all marketplace.
To see this for yourself, consider the number of musicians (as a percentage of total musicians) who can do this for a full-time living, and try to imagine a way in which this number might increase. Same goes for writers and many creative fields.
I was so impressed by Max Tegmark’s Life 3.0: On Being Human in the Age of AI that I wrote a member-only article called…
The Trigger-Happy Mouse Trap & Goal-Setting from First Principles: Book Review of Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark
which you can read now or find later on my profile.
See you again next week for another book review or essay related to my weekly reading.
Call to Action
If you want to learn how to read artfully AKA slowly (like me) but still read one book a week, check out my reading checklist.