AI and the Promethean Fallacy

Al and the Promethean Fallacy

August 19, 2016

Many people are fearful of what will happen to society due to artificial intelligence. Otherwise known as the Promethean Fallacy, which is deeply imbedded in human psychology, is the belief that we are going to invent the things that kill us all; that there will be massive job displacement because of robots, technology and AI. 

Would you guess that the rate of job creation and destruction in the American economy is rising or falling over time?

This year, the World Economic Forum reported that five million jobs will be destroyed by 2020. 

In 2016, the American economy will destroy 21 million jobs and create about 24.5 million jobs, for a net add of about 3.5 million jobs. This is not obvious because news and media reports on job growth show the number of net jobs and not the gross numbers of jobs. Each quarter, we destroy 5 million jobs and create 6 million jobs. There are approximately 5 million people who drive professionally in the U.S. What's going to happen to the taxi drivers and truck drivers when we have self-driving cars? We will, and arguably can, redeploy those people. 

Most people believe that job creation and destruction is rising because it feels like change is accelerating. Turns out, the rate is gradually falling. Rather than blame technology for taking jobs, could it mean that we're not creating enough opportunity?

If we're thinking about the future, we have to think about what will be the new fields, new sciences, new industries, new business and new jobs that will get created. Every job that we all have got created as a consequence of the process of change. 

As Marc Andreesen aptly puts it, "We should want more change, because we should want more advances, because we should want more opportunity to get created. We should want more products and services in our lives and we should want more industries to get created.  We should want more medical advances, more advances to arts and sciences and every other field of human activity. We have to fight to get that." 

How do we do that? Create new things, new products. Create new businesses around those things and organizations that are built to scale.

For a deeper dive into this ideology, check out the book, Smart People Should Build Things by Andrew Yang.

Learn more about the future of jobs and workforce strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution