During the 50´s of the last century, the famous and renowned author of science fiction Isaac Asimov, introduced in one of his books, a set of technical terms helping to shape the modern concept of Artificial Intelligence, which basically can be described as: technological entities of autonomous machines, prepared to include an "advanced level of reasoning" and perform different "complex tasks" impacting society. In addition, the controversial "laws" of robotics were included, whose paradoxes govern the life between robots and humans, at least in the utopic (dystopic?) world of Asimov.

Since then, with the scientific and technological development, both hardware and software, have achieved enormous changes (especially in size) but despite the revolution, they are still sub ordered to the Turing model nobody has been able to surpass. Personal computing, internet, mobile phones, social networks and almost all the technology we have today, is programmed according to the Turing machine, as I had already mentioned in previous articles. Of course, it is a limited model, although very good for performing repetitive tasks, requiring great ability to do mathematical calculations.

However, even with this limitation (perhaps temporary), and the development not only of Artificial Intelligence, but of Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, etc. because of the potential each one has over the automation of massive production, different ideologies have been formulating their positions on this matters, using most of the cases some type of "ultra dependent" point of view: with a community divided by whippers of the disproportionate expansion of science, by materialists and their variants; similarly at the level of politics and economics, from technocrats , neoliberals and social democrats, to the CEOs of companies such as Facebook or Microsoft; everybody work to make technology penetrate human life in an unprecedented scale, hoping that it will be useful to find a way to solve every social and monetary conflict (and of course serving their own personal interests). Meanwhile, at the core of global production, the workers continue, in one way or another, to sustain the historic struggle for labor rights; it is the class struggle “always” present as the engine of our times that unfolds along with the development of science, but with a new and very important question that could change its conception: Will the progress of Artificial Intelligence be the end of the labor produced by men?

Although many of these questions have shades of fantasy and “economics-fiction”, implications these interrogations may have for the future of our civilizations are clear. For example, depending on whether the machines are able to replace only low-skilled work, qualified work or all the work in reality, different consequences will occur, but in all cases presumably of great magnitude, (therefore, we should be conscious of it). Until now, the machine has been able to replace a lot of people in routine jobs leading to some professions or trades almost to extinction. Who remembers telephone operators or typists today? But not only people with routine and / or “low qualified” jobs, but many “qualified workers” (accountants, data analysts, and supervisors) will be potentially replaced by machines.

It is explained with a similar approach in Post Capitalism, a book published by Paul Mason holding in his thesis, it will be technology and the information society who is going to "contradict" the logic of the international market, (based fundamentally on scarcity), in three ways essentially, of which we have just seen the first manifestations:

  • The rise of the “collaborative economy”, with projects such as Github, Wikipedia, Wikileaks escaping from any economic judgement because they reduce the need of work and expenses in many cases ex.- demolishing the traditional business of encyclopedias, libraries, publishers or repositories.

  • The difficulty of the market to arrange prices due to the "distinctive characteristics of information" as an asset, so apparently information cannot be captured / controlled totally, by capitalist market and the big monopolies (Facebook or Twitter shall remain untouched, either smartphones, and the Internet. When you try to shut them down {China, Korea}, the consequences are catastrophic).

  • And as we already pointed out, the decrease in labor demand. According to Mason, in the next 30 years, between 40% and 50% of jobs will disappear and will be automated, especially commerce and office work, but those requiring technical training will not be saved either. The crucial difference in this historical moment, compared to other stages of economic evolution, is that technology will not create more jobs, but it is going eliminate them.

The algorithms injected in these intelligent machines execute a series of tasks in established contexts aiming for the goal of exceeding highly competent humans, but only when circumstances are controlled, the guidelines are clear and it is "treatable" to create an appropriate simulation. Which is crucial: many problems and decisions of our current life respond to the aforementioned schemes.

At the moment, machines can learn from a set of particular data, within a scenario involved in a sequence of restrictions and precise rules, something that leads hundreds of companies around the world to pay for tools, which allow process optimization transformed into money savings or efficiency gains. The "Machine Learning", the ability of a machine to learn without being explicitly programmed for it, via some input data, is already a reality, whose development and application implicates several very prominent organizations around the world.

And that is precisely the other “mortal sin” of Artificial Intelligence: the most effective way to train it consists in many cases of violating the privacy of its users. Cortana or Siri, for example, create some sort of "consciousness" about a user X with an iPhone, and a different one about a user Y with an iPad, but none of them knows about me, in my Windows Surface (at least I hope so). But if they decide to construct a single process with all the "minds" of their users, they could be much more efficient and powerful.

What is the cost of that? If Apple, Google or Facebook decide to make a 'big brain' putting all those thinkers together, they could know what happens in the lives of everybody around the world at the same time, in real time. They would know where we are, who we meet, our friends, family etc. If we deliver our browsing history, our social networks or messaging apps we use, even if they are encrypted, basically our privacy ceases to exist. Add all the maps of Street View plus the apps accessing your GPS and we have the happy situation of a dystopia. It seems that technically it would be already possible. The companies claim to train their robots with anonymized data (with the inclusion of techniques such as "differential privacy"), but this is not verifiable.

We are then probably at the edge, in which most jobs can be easily simplified or automated, but at the same time, the creation of new ones focuses on jobs that would bring very little value, therefore, they would receive perhaps very low salaries. And as some anthropologist say: the number of hours dedicated to work have not decreased over time, ironically, technology have instead increased them considerably in a way that seems to be “mysterious”.

Lately, personalities such as Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates have alerted the world about the dangers of Artificial Intelligence and urge an imminent regulation. But honestly speaking, are there such dangers surrounding us? The evolution from seeing algorithms with the power of constructing learning processes, to imagining something similar as “Rosie” (The Jetsons) is something undoubtedly easy, but to consider it a reality, it is necessary to go through very complex computational jumps that are still quite far from the social application. Many people think that claiming a regulation on something non-existent would only restrict their possibilities and generate a collective hysteria around the perspective of "smarter objects", just as the concept of IoT (Internet of Things) delimits.

However, something exceptional in the history of humanity occurred very recently, as Saudi Arabia becoming the first country in the world granting citizenship to "Sophia", "a woman" (notice the sexual distinction) robot. "I am very honored and proud for this unique distinction" said Sophia and when asked if she was aware of herself, she responded with a very disturbing answer: "Well let me ask you this, how do you know you are HUMAN?". And of course, no less disturbing was her response when she was asked if we should fear an eventuality, in which the robots would become hostile: "You've been reading too much Elon Musk and watching too many Hollywood movies. Do not worry, if you're nice to me ... I'll be nice to you"

In The Last Job on Earth, an animated short film where a worker named Alice is greatly frustrated when a machine refuses to give her medicine, we see the machines replacing all human labor, from the domestic tasks to medical care. Alice lives her day to day owning the only human work left on the planet. She travels with desolation and bitterness the streets of her city, full of unemployed people, dehumanized spaces and defective machines.

The message is clear: no single future is bright if the human component is not contemplated in the evolution. Many of us work (and live) with a single portable device, containing a large part of our externalized "self” beyond our contacts, emails, photos and so on. We can contemplate our own fragmentation, our conversion into "multithread" entities, as communications and social networks invade intimate spaces such as the dining room, the bedroom or even the toilet. The Last Job on Earth focuses on the human aspect of this new industrial revolution that isolates and confuses all the people who experience it today.

The greatest enigma of the "post-capitalist" society posted by Mason with the inclusion of Artificial Intelligence, is to know precisely what will happen to our "self" when it would not be possible to define it in the terrain of corporate identity, or its work skills, experience, knowledge, and overalls; in front of the machines that we have built apparently to make human life easier and not to ruin us. Maybe it will not take too much time to discover it.