I had the honor of appearing on This Week in Tech yesterday. The blow of not sharing the studio with tech legend and usual host Leo Laporte was eased by ABC’s Becky Worley, who was fantastic at drawing out the wisdom of guests Rob Reid and Robert Scoble . (Yes, this was the three Robert show.)
The entire program lasts two hours so I would invite you to watch it in chunks during work breaks. To help, this embedded video below begins at what I thought was the best segment: After an intense discussion about artificial intelligence, Becky pulled her son Finn on set and asked us to help “Future Proof this Kid.”
Regular readers know I care a lot about this topic. One of my most popular recent posts was: “A billion useless people: The end of work is coming, but no one seems very concerened. What will we do when robots replace labor in many industries, ranging from truck driver to lawyer? I thought the two other Robs gave great answers:
“(Push) into realms where it’s an intensely human interaction,” Rob Reid said. “It’s going to be a long time before we want computers as therapists or masseuses…also things that are really … high-end creativity.” Reid writes science fiction novels, and was recently assured, “You’ll be one of the last to go.”
Rob Scoble made some great points about learning the right way to ask questions of computers, which are prone to make some pretty big mistakes — like a GPS steering a driver into a river.
“Having the curiosity to ask how things work, and knowing when (the answers you get) are not right,” he said.
“So, creativity plus some judgement,” Worley summarized.
But the high point was Reid’s discussion about the potential power of teamwork between humans and machines. With a subtle nod to an earlier discussion of augmented reality technologies, he cited the example of “augmented workers” who can be far more productive that workers or robots alone.
“(These are) people who have been super-empowered by their pairing with technology,” he said. He cited chess player Garry Kasparov’s advocacy of what’s called “centaur” chess. When a computer and an average human player are teamed, they easily beat even the best machine-learning-enabled chess player.
“We told you that Big Blue beat a human,” Rob Scoble added. “What we didn’t tell you is Big Blue and human beats Big Blue every time.”
So, said Worley, what’s left for humans is “that King Solomon role.”
I then chimed in with my buzzkill comments about a billion useless people, along with comments about that Oxford list of least and most automatable jobs.
Have a watch/listen. The segment I summarized here begins at 1:48:30, in case the embedded YouTube link below doesn’t start at the right place for you.