April 28, 2024

AI, layoffs, and existential dread.

For decades we’ve been theorizing about the end of humanity due to AI becoming so advanced it takes over the human race.

But what we should have been worried about this whole time, is rappers using it to make their diss tracks.

Now that’s some scary fucked up shit.

All jokes aside.

As I sit here recovering from my snowboarding injury from a few weeks ago, I can’t help but observe and consume content about the world around us.

And frankly, it’s freaking me out a little bit.

I’ve noticed several trends going on with technology and how it’s changing life around us as well as the results of those changes.

The over convenience of life.

My first observation is, I think in 10 or 20 years from now, we will realize that Gen X and Millennials may have fucked the world up. I’m talking the generation following the Baby Boomers currently aged around 40-60. We are beginning to see the changes now, but I think in the future the results of their life’s work will become even more evident.

The same way we look at the Baby Boomers for changing the fabric of society and molding it in such a way that it has become irreparably damaged through politics, I think the same will be said about Generation X and Millennials, but instead with technology.

So many essential components of the human existence have been commoditized into a paywall and a screen, and in order to participate need to pay with either your wallet or your attention span.

Things like basic human interaction (social media), love and companionship (dating apps), entertainment (Youtube and Netflix), transportation (Uber and Lyft), going out to eat (Doordash and Ubereats), and now even general thinking and (AI), have all had technology created around them in order to replace previous industries in the pursuit of convenience for the user.

The problem is, all of these things have been created under the guise of making our lives “better.”

These companies do in fact create products that make these parts of life more convenient, it’s actually incredible. You’re telling me I can get chicken wings delivered right to my doorstep while I binge every Lord of the Rings movie and swipe on hundreds of single women on my phone, all from my couch?

Sign me up.

But with every cause, there is an effect. In a world where there is so much convenience,  where everything is just so easy and within reach, the result is a life with an  abundance of free time.

And with this free time, we just distract ourselves. With information, with content, with everything because there is just so much time left over to do things “we really want to do.”

But what we will often default to is just scrolling on our phones for endless hours throughout the day and night.

It takes a strong amount of will power to rustle up the motivation to take action, but now with so many distractions easily available to you created by convenience, it’s never been so enjoyable to sit around and do nothing.

Why would you go out and do something like meeting new people or traveling to a new place, when you can just experience it second hand all from the comfort of your own home?

Just convenience in exchange for your hard earned dollars and valuable time.

Artificial Intelligence

I don’t have to sit here and remind of you about the growing existential dread in the back of our minds everyday in regards to the advancement of AI. It seems like every few months or so there is an incredible new improvement on the technology that blows everyone away.

Whether it be art, writing, video, now even writing lines of code. The natural conclusion would be it seems like AI is coming for everyone’s jobs. We used to think it would only take autonomous and boring jobs, but maybe not if it’s literally writing code now.

I for one, used to actually think AI was just another trendy tech talking point, where everyone and their grandmas would talk about it at the dinner table like it was going to be the next thing that will change the world.

The next crypto, if you will.

Before it was websites, per the Dot Com Bubble.

Tech has a habit of doing this over and over again and everybody always gets swept up in the hype train.

But now, I’m actually starting to feel like this one might be the real deal. Because it’s not offering to solve a specific problem, making something inconvenient more convenient, or have a large cult like following behind it.

No, this is different.

It’s fixing all the problems. Even the human thinking problem.

As far as I can tell, nobody is excited for AI, at least not the general public. Maybe you could say the people who are obsessed with advancing technology are excited, but people are generally concerned for it to different degrees.

The main reason it seems people are afraid of this technology is related directly to their professions, their jobs, and their livelihoods.

They are afraid it will make them irrelevant.

And it seems like it’s already happening.


Another thing I’ve been observing is, myself along with many of my friends and colleagues, are all being laid off from their jobs. While this does make sense, young, cheap, and lesser skilled workers are typically the first to go during economic hardships, in my lifetime I have never seen it happen to an extent such as this in my young working life.

During 2008 I was simply too young to really notice the true effects of that recession.

But now that it’s happening to me and those around me, it feels terrible. Hopeless even. With that coinciding during a time of unseen convenience, where it’s never been so easy to sit at home doing nothing and so hard to get a job with the over saturation of the job market, it seems like a recipe for disaster.

Not only that, but stack on the rise of AI with the sudden decrease in the labor force, it seems like the future of the average working individual doesn’t have the brightest future.

I’m not going to sit here and preach my unhinged conspiracy theories at you, (although I would really love to), I’m just saying all of these things have the most unfortunate coincidental timing that happen to screw over the largest demographic of people.

But it’s not to say this isn’t normal. There have been technological advancements throughout human evolution that have effectively changed the way humans do things many many times.

The creation of cars probably put the horse industry out of business.

The streaming and technology industry is currently putting the music and entertainment industry out of business.

The creation of the internet has essentially put the print media industry out of business.

New technologies arrive and disrupt the status quo of whatever industry they live in. Those industries and companies have to adapt, and so do those workers.

It’s a very normal and healthy thing to happen. It pushes society forward.

But what is a skill or technology to make something irrelevant, but now instead it’s thinking itself.

So, what does this all mean?

I think it’s pertinent to note how we all got here.

If I wanted to be dramatic, I could compare society to living in Blade Runner in real time, minus the cool flying cars and biologically manufactured humans walking around.

But who’s to say those aren’t on the way as well.

All essential parts of human life so natural to us not just 20 years ago have all been replaced by giant tech companies gatekeeping these experiences with a monthly membership of $9.99 (but only $7.99 per month if you pay for the year).

This was all done in the pursuit of the entrepreneurial spirit humans have installed into our psyches. We have an unwavering tendency to improve, to optimize, and to have more of everything we do.

But this is the natural conclusion to conquering this insatiable need for money, status, and power, just like how the baby boomers did with the government so many years ago.

For our grandparent’s generation it was the government, now for us it is technology.

As far as I can tell, most people seem less genuinely happy as much. How could you be, when you are either being laid off (or maybe you hate your job), staring at different sized screens, and you don’t need to leave the house to live anymore?

They’ve been writing books and making films about this type of life for decades, and as scary as it is to say, I think we’re finally here. It just doesn’t seem like it because there are no flying cars and robots… yet.

I’m not here to spout doom, gloom, and nihilism onto every poor reader who happens to get this far into this article.

But I want to point out what seems to be going on, as a regular guy who is going though a lot of other things that other people are.

I don’t think anyone is the villain, or there is anyone to blame.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in his dorm room in college to find a way to get laid, now there are fringe political groups that protest and destroy cities.

The industrial revolution brought about coal and gas powered machines to do work faster and more efficiently than humans, now global warming is bringing about a sixth ice age in 200 years where originally it took 2 billion.

We needed something to help us write out our bullshit HR emails in order to not sound as mean as we really want to be, and now soon there will be millions of people out of work and we will be enslaved to our AI overlords.

Wrapping my head around what the present and future potentially look like.

I think this means the future will be one of two options.

One. We will all be forced into unemployment and be forced to submit to the AI overlords who hold the keys to our human existence. Where we are faced to pay for things like love, validation, and companionship (oh wait, we already do).

We will then become the energy resource for the machine world as they force themselves into our minds with images of the a seemingly perfect and happy life, unknowingly under their control until Keanu Reeves breaks out and saves us all.

Two. The world goes on like it always does but the only way you will be able to get a job is to have actual human soft skills that are unique to you as an individual. Things like communication, personality, a sense of humor, and creative thinking.

You will be required to have actual valuable skills that a computer software cannot replicate, meaning you will not be able simply skate by with no real skills, because otherwise they would just have ChaptGPT do your job instead.

Or (surprise) a third option. A nice mix of both.

Artificial intelligence may actually phase out bullshit jobs and we will use as a tool to get even more done on a daily basis. Slaving away for years of our lives doing things we hate, being forced to do them because we are obligated to make money and pay to live. Maybe now, we will be allowed to live freely, without the economic expectations of needing a form of income.

Our work will actually be better, and as a result maybe our lives could actually become better because time consuming tasks will just take so much less time.

Maybe it’s a good thing, who knows.

But going off of history, I’d like to assume we will be just fine.

For our entire human existence we’ve always believed the end of the world was around the corner. Whether it be Judgement Day, Y2K, or even the 2012 Mayan Calendar fiasco.

It seems like humans have a fear fetish for this type of thing. Kind of weird.

But I’m an optimist, just let me be delusional.

It’s clear technology is here to stay, and it is advancing at an incomprehensible rate. So instead of trying fight it or wallow in your sorrows, maybe it’s time to figure out how you can future proof yourself so you wont be made irrelevant by a computer program.

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