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Resisting the Machines



The events of the recent Hollywood strikes are not surprising. Across the long history of technological change in economic life, resistance to labor-replacing technologies is the more common reaction by rulers and people throughout history. For very intuitive reasons, resistance is the typical response from groups in society who stand to lose economic or political power with the adoption of new labor-replacing technologies.


Forecasting the ultimate impact of these new machines on society is incredibly difficult. This isn’t a case of simply working out how mechanization might impact 18th century factories. By comparison, that would be a much simpler issue than thinking through how the various flavors of “AI” will influence systems all across daily life.


Trying to forecast the possible impacts and evolution of machines today involves at least the following:

  • Considering if, in the specific case you are looking at, those particular tools are more labor-replacing or labor-enabling

  • Anticipating if key stakeholders in your case will resist, accept, or advocate for adoption

  • Considering how governments will try to regulate the new technologies

  • Examining the actors who are not just designing the new technologies but also trying to architect new systems of technologies (and remain in economically privileged positions with regard to those systems)

  • Accounting for the pressures of geoeconomic and goetechnological competition

When you widen the aperture a bit, it’s a pretty big swirl of forces.


For those who haven’t had enough of “understanding AI” conversations yet, the following are a couple of pretty good, short podcasts to listen to, from Intelligence Squared.


Hit us up if it’s time for your team to get a little more focused on the future of AI.

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