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jensen huang Nvidia ceo
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In the latest episode of CBS’ 60 Minutes, Bill Whitaker spends time with and interviews the superstar CEO of the AI era, Jensen Huang of Nvidia, who showcased the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) today and gave us hints about its future.

Among them, he weighed in on the topic that most people are concerned about: will AI make us all jobless?

“I’ve never seen one company…

…that had earnings increase and not hire more people”, said the Nvidia founder in response to the question about the impact of AI on regular workers. Good news, then! (right?)

However, when pressed on the topic of some jobs succumbing to intelligent automation, he appeared to silently agree, while qualifying his response with the following:

“I believe that you still want humans in the loop, because we have good judgement, because there are circumstances that machines are just not going to understand.”

So, your job may, after all, be at risk of succumbing to thinking computers, but there should still be a place for you in the workforce.

The age of fundamental disruption

Technology making people redundant isn’t anything new, of course. We’ve seen it play out time and time again since the dawn of the industrial revolution. Human anxiety about being replaced, rendered jobless and destitute aren’t new either.

200 years ago, Luddites were trying to sabotage steam-powered cotton looms which they believed to be a mortal threat to their livelihoods.

Luddite resistance technology
Despite violent means, Luddite resistance failed to stop technological progress/ Image Credit: CBS

Advancing automation of work nearly eradicated employment in agriculture, where most people used to work for centuries.

But do we find ourselves longing for the plough today? Machines have made our labour more productive, safer, and ultimately, better paid.

They saved us from toiling away in the fields or mines, risking our lives and good health, opening up opportunities for intellectual employment in air-conditioned offices or, these days, even completely remote work from home.

On the basis of our past experiences, we shouldn’t fear yet another round of automation. Just look how much it has given us.

However, AI is different in that it challenges not only our employment but also our human identity. It’s no longer about machines taking over certain difficult tasks, but replacing us altogether.

If a thinking robot can work like a human and think like a human, but never gets tired and is not swayed by irrational desires, what do we need humans for?

On that subject, Jensen Huang appears to be a humanist, believing that we possess certain fundamental qualities that AI will not be able to accurately replicate or understand, simply because a machine can never be one of us or grasp what it is like to be a person.

The jury is still out on that one, and although the current generation of, however impressive, Large Language Models is excellent only at mimicking human behaviour rather than actually independent thought, there’s no saying what the next stage in AI’s development may bring.

How to stay useful?

Since human-level intelligence is still some distance away, the primary concern today is avoiding being replaced by something like ChatGPT. And there appear to be two avenues to follow to achieve that.

One of them is presented in this clever advertising banner by a Belgian employment company:

IMPACT jobs ChatGPT advertisement
Image Credit: IMPACT Jobs via LinkedIn

Yes, for all the advances in automation, humans are still better suited for many manual jobs, which often pay very well these days. ChatGPT will not take your place as a construction worker, plumber or electrician.

That said, this recommendation makes sense only for younger people who are planning their careers. Realistically, most 40- to 50-year-old office workers won’t reskill themselves to become professional carpenters or welders.

This is where Nvidia’s CEO gave us a hint—be the human that can’t be replaced by a chatbot.

Curious, creative, critical thinker. Level up intellectually to contribute in ways that can’t be mimicked by a large model trained on billions of data entries that form predictable patterns.

Original thought, communication skills, strategy, ability to work in or, better still, lead a team are all the qualities that AI does not possess and may never master well enough to replace us.

At the end of the day, we created it to help us, and without us, it has no goals of its own to pursue.

This is what Jensen Huang meant when he said certain things are beyond AI’s understanding. And if you want to stay employed, they shouldn’t be beyond yours.

Featured Image Credit: 60 Minutes

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