On getting replaced by a robot

There’s lots to talk about in the world of AI nowadays now that ChatGPT’s entered the chat (sorry, couldn’t resist!), which has opened up a whole conversation about whether all our jobs are going to get taken, replaced, khallas’d, finished.

The research of Daron Acemoglu from MIT showcases that in the past (read: 1990 to 2007), each additional robot in the manufacturing industry replaced about 3.3 workers on average. Yes, this is a thing, but at the same time though, I abide by the maxim that past results are not an indicator of future returns; just because that was true in the past, it may not be true in the future; manufacturing as an industry has radically changed, but that doesn’t mean that the changes of the future will be the same as the ones of the past.

Also, what’s potentially at risk of being automated is certainly much more than just manufacturing as an industry so uh…

Well. I’ll write a bit more about jobs that I think can be automated in a later post, but for now…

I mean personally, I do think it would be funny if I got replaced by this kid…

…But I just don’t think that it’s going to happen any time soon, at least not in my line of work as a teacher and a writer.

I’d like to think that it’s not because I’m in denial (though I could be!) but rather it’s because I’ve actually used many different kinds of AI technologies pretty extensively and have a sense of what they can do.

In the former case, I’ve started to actually teach students about using AI to draft and structure their points, and in turn to make use of the little all-too-human cognitive connections in their head to see how they can improve from and learn with AI, and in the latter case, I’ve come to realize that there are many things that I realize that, as a creative person, I want to add a lot into the works that I create in order to make them beautiful and to level up.

It might seem odd for me to say this, especially since I’ve literally created an online course about ChatGPT, but I don’t think that AI is really here to replace us in most cases, but rather an incredibly powerful tool that’s here to help us level up as humans.

That said, I do believe that there is a chance that AI will level up from its current form and free itself from the limitations that characterize its performance; what I say now will probably come to bite me again when or if technology does catch up and outdoes me on every conceivable front, though I’ll probably want to write about that again on another day.

For now though, I broadly agree with Sam Altman that it would take an incredible feat of human arrogance to imagine that AI could not intellectually surpass us one day (See: 5:24), but also recognize the truth in what he’s said about how it will automate repetitive tasks and yield a reality where (and I’m going beyond what he’s said a little bit here) the most significant part of each job is our ability to maintain an emotional connection with another person.

It’s interesting to think about these things, and I look forward to writing more 🙂

P.S. I’ll be speaking as a panelist for the “How AI Technology Will Disrupt Business” session at “BIZ Gear UP! 2023”, organized by the FinLit Media Group, parent company of the YouTube channel Mr Money TV, in collaboration with NextUp Asia, the Malaysia’s largest Facebook group dedicated to entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurs and Startups in Malaysia.

If you’re free on the 24th of February and you happen to be in KL, make sure to get a ticket and stop by!

Discipline and Freedom.

When you are younger, it’s often harder to see how the moments that we experience and the key decisions that we make can lead to a larger picture – to see the full picture of things which, as I think about it now, is often also hard to see even as an adult with the benefit of time and experience.

Amid the dizzying complexity of this strange picture, there is one thing that I’ve come to realize for sure, though – and that is that discipline is a wonderful thing.

Every day that I live on this planet, I’m reminded that discipline is a wonderful thing – it’s one of those things that maybe a child might hate at the outset of life, but like many other things, it’s something that’s both crucial, essential, and desirable in the service of a higher purpose.

I remember many days in the past, for example, when I would hate on discipline, thinking that I simply wanted ‘to be free’ to do whatever it was that I wished.

I mean, it sounds cool, doesn’t it?

Wake up, watch TV, play some video games, eat some snacks, and maybe fall asleep again at no particularly set-in-stone time of the day…

The ‘freedom’ to do nothing, to move how you want, to go where you want, to do what you want at a given moment.

For a long time, this appealed to me a ton, and I can’t deny that even now, there are some days when I just feel like doing nothing in particular (even though they are a lot rarer nowadays).

Nowadays though, I think I probably wouldn’t call that anything close to freedom.

First of all, if it really is ‘freedom’, it’s a rather trivial sort of freedom, isn’t it?

Is it the freedom to go places? No it’s not – you need the energy, money, and the decision within you to do that. Is it the freedom to fall in love deeply with someone and feel the light change around you as if you’ve begun to touch the rays of radiant sun for the first time in your life? No it’s not to do something meaningful, to chart a course of which you can be proud, to fulfill your desires and greatest dreams from the comfort of your home?

There are many things in life that are too large for any individual burst of energy, whim, and flight of fancy to tackle – whether that’s playing the piano, running a business, writing a book, creating content, it’s all the same; there is precious little in the world that a person can do if they don’t put their heart and their soul into seeking out a process that is going to bring them to where they want to go.

To receive energy and earn a living, you need to create something meaningful or serve someone well – discipline.

To maintain a relationship with your friends and the people you love? That’s discipline again, in some ways.

To play the piano like Rachmaninoff or the cello like Yo-Yo Ma, to dance as the swan does or to embody Yuzuru Hanyu? You probably know already, especially considering all those tales about how child prodigies start early, push themselves for hours a day, and then only level up to become truly incredible at what they do!

For all you know, perhaps I’ve just become one of those silly, boring adults that I used to look at as I wondered why they would do the same things all day and go after process. Who knows?

In any case, my beliefs now are very different from the ones that I held when I was much younger – because for the me of the now, discipline isn’t the opposite of freedom; far from it!

Rather, discipline itself is freedom… and with that, I’ll rest 🙂

The new site design!

I’m SUPER happy with the design of this website, which I created with the help of an incredible new friend (who lives in Bangladesh; thanks Imran!) – There’s also a fun story behind this that I couldn’t make up even if I had wanted to.

You might notice that the design of this website looks kind of similar to that of Austin Kleon’s website, and that’s no coincidence – I thought that the site looked fire, which is why I decided to implement the way that it looked.

Is it ironic that I’m ‘stealing’ a design from a guy who became famous for writing the book “Steal Like An Artist”?

I mean, I do have a physical copy of that in my bedroom, so on one note, perhaps I paid the tuition fee for entry, and on the second note, perhaps I’m one of those rare people who’s actually following the man’s sage advice and indeed, stealing like an artist while adding little flourishes here and there as I build my next steps.

Also, Chapter 3 of heartbeat(); is out – go have a read!