You probably get this question a lot "Will AI be the end of the human race?". However, my concern is not that AI will "take over" or their goal misalign with ours. Instead, I fear that AI and machines will become so good at doing everything better than humans that we find ourselves not having anything to do. Humans need things to do to stay mentally healthy and I fear that all that will be left is just consumption of what the machines and AI create. Will this make us humans feel like our existence is meaningless and eventually every human becomes depressed and humanity goes extinct through mass suicides or something similar.

Can this happen, is it feasible? If AI and machines get to that point, could humanity suffer mass mental illness or will there still be stuff for us to do?

  • $\begingroup$ What I meant to ask is "can this happen?". I know it's only speculative but we might guess based on what we know about AI and human psychology. $\endgroup$ – Simon Apr 30 '19 at 21:55

There are couple of assumptions that you have made. They are:

  • We do everything as a Job(Here, from that I mean, Activities performed for the sake of living).
  • The number of activities that we can do are limited.

In my following answer, I assume that the intelligence of machines that you are talking about are of the level of a average Human being.

Most of the time it is not the case that what a person does is primarily for the bread and butter. As an example, For a musician, the pleasure which he gets from playing music is the main driving force which makes him a musician. That pleasure can be anything from Unfolding a post experience in a form of music piece, to a pattern of notes. Similarly for a Mathematician the driving force is certainty, beauty, pattern of geometry.
If in some distant future, Artificial intelligent machines are capable of playing piece or discover theorems and proofs, then that won't stop Human beings from doing their jobs, as they won't get the pleasure which they get when they express their experience in the form of music.

Second assumption is analogue to saying that "Creativity is limited", but that's not the case, as The number of things and methods that we can create and innovate, is not stored in some kind of constraint reservoir. Whatever we create like, any job is based on present needs , like if we felt that some place is to be secured, we create a job of "Security guard", and on assuming the future would be not be as present, It can be said that our needs are not limited and from that it follows that whatever we can create is not limited.

So, it can be concluded that however advance AI becomes we would not get to the point in which humanity suffers mass mental illness whose cause is the sense of meaninglessness caused by AI.

| improve this answer | |
  • $\begingroup$ You misinterpreted the OP's first point. Say the machines (and it's very much reality) start doing everything better than you do, as per demand and supply not only will there be mass unemployment it'll also lead to disillusion, because we know whatever we do there's someone better than us and our work is of no use. We produce work in the hope someone use it, but if that motivation is gone than most of the people's working inspiration is gone. $\endgroup$ – DuttaA May 10 '19 at 5:17
  • $\begingroup$ Suppose I’m a musician and recently I’ve lost someone, I play a piece expressing my sad feelings, in the piece I might express things like sacrifices that I’ve done for him, or about how valuable and beautiful those days were, these are my personal subjective feelings, No one can know these feelings with the depths I know. This is only one particular instance and it has obvious generalizations. And on assuming if somehow If I am able to demand these pieces from AI by convincing it somehow( certainly not by language) like by sci-fi neuralink, then that AI Becomes an integral part of me. $\endgroup$ – XRFXLP May 10 '19 at 5:41
  • $\begingroup$ You didn't really get my point...Its not that everyone is dying everyday, you are talking about out of ordinary case while I'm talking about ordinary everyday life. $\endgroup$ – DuttaA May 10 '19 at 5:48
  • $\begingroup$ I guess that requires a discussion and I think comment box are not for that, You can create a chat box for that, Since I do not have enough reputation to do so. $\endgroup$ – XRFXLP May 10 '19 at 6:09
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your enthusiasm, but I don't really think it'll serve any purpose since it will require lot of assumptions about AI which I'm not qualified, nor willing to make. $\endgroup$ – DuttaA May 10 '19 at 6:20

Let us analyze the question first. The assumption was, that intelligent robots will have a negative impact to the society, will cause lazyness and individual problems. The fear is, that human mankind isn't prepared for social robots, robots in the industry and dog-like robots who are walking through the street.[1] What if, this assumption is true? A possible reaction to the danger of robots would be to regulate the development of intelligent machine, delay it's introduction into market and perhaps forbid Artificial Intelligence in general. Similar to the famous love song of Bob Marley, the idea can be called “no robots, no cry”.

The disadvantages of delayed or regulated introduction of Artificial General Intelligence are known and described in the literature. Quote:

“some authors argue that the use of prohibitions and other “tougher” regulations may deviate the development of A.I. from legitimate actors to illegitimate and shadowy ones” [2]

[1] Sotala, Kaj, and Roman V. Yampolskiy. "Responses to catastrophic AGI risk: a survey." Physica Scripta 90.1 (2014): 018001. pdf

[2] João Paulo de Almeida Lenardon: "The Regulation of Artificial Intelligence" (2017) pdf

| improve this answer | |
  • $\begingroup$ So we might be doomed either way? $\endgroup$ – Simon Apr 30 '19 at 21:57
  • $\begingroup$ What I'm saying is that what if robots and AI become better at everything, math, music, theatre, gardening, inventing, making movies etc.? What is there left for humans to do? The only thing comes to mind is that we will cosume that which the machines create. Consumption will be all we do and that it will make it feel meaningless and cause mass mental illness. $\endgroup$ – Simon Apr 30 '19 at 21:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Why would humans stop doing those things? I don't garden because I need to garden, I do it because I enjoy gardening and the reward of making something beautiful. I know I could employ someone else to do it, but I choose not to, because I enjoy it. The same applies to everything else on your list. In fact, if robots/AI provide our essential amenities for us, then it might actually free up more time for us to do the things we enjoy and choose to do. Time will tell... $\endgroup$ – BigBadMe May 1 '19 at 9:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.