Bill Gates is convinced that artificial intelligence will make our lives better and easier. Ummm …

Artificial Intelligence will change the nature of some jobs, and eliminate others. But will that be good for humanity? Bill Gates thinks so. 

Bill Gates is convinced that artificial intelligence will make our lives better and easier. Ummm …
(Wikimedia Commons)

In a recent interview, billionaire Bill Gates had this to say about artificial intelligence (AI) and how it would affect the future of work: 

“Well, certainly we can look forward to the idea that vacations will be longer at some point. If we can actually produce twice as much as we make today with less labor, the purpose of humanity is not just to sit behind a counter and sell things, you know?"

It’s an interesting idea, considering that nearly every time technology has been introduced, it actually didn’t do that; workers simply had to begin doing something else or become unemployed. And work hours here in the U. S. have increased despite evidence that longer work hours actually make workers less effective. 

In countries with a more social democratic model like France, Denmark, and Germany — and especially in those with a universal basic income — it could indeed have something like that effect. Because of higher productivity, mandated vacation and sick days, and limits to the workweek, folks in those countries get a lot more time off than workers in the United States. However, in a country that is based around people needing to perform whatever work they can in order to not be homeless, it’s not likely to have that kind of effect. 

Just take a look at how productivity has increased for workers in the U. S. compared with wages:

This would refute the idea that more productivity means more money in the pocket of those doing the work — or even more vacation time.

AI will cost jobs. What remains to be seen is how dramatic the losses will be. We’re already seeing the number of retail jobs basically shrink every week as more brick and mortar shops close their doors—largely because Amazon and others ship directly to customers, saving people the "inconvenience" of going to retail stores to buy that new book or pair of jeans.

With the launch of Amazon’s self-checkout store in Seattle, even more of those jobs are likely to disappear.  

In reality, this becomes an evolving job market, and those at the low-end of the game will have to find something else they can do, for probably close to the same wages. Even Gates acknowledges this: “In case of adjusting and having a safety net that works so people can get re-trained, it will get challenging.”




Weird science shows unseemly way beetles escape after being eaten

Certain water beetles can escape from frogs after being consumed.

R. attenuata escaping from a black-spotted pond frog.

Surprising Science
  • A Japanese scientist shows that some beetles can wiggle out of frog's butts after being eaten whole.
  • The research suggests the beetle can get out in as little as 7 minutes.
  • Most of the beetles swallowed in the experiment survived with no complications after being excreted.
Keep reading Show less

The cost of world peace? It's much less than the price of war

The world's 10 most affected countries are spending up to 59% of their GDP on the effects of violence.

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Conflict and violence cost the world more than $14 trillion a year.
  • That's the equivalent of $5 a day for every person on the planet.
  • Research shows that peace brings prosperity, lower inflation and more jobs.
  • Just a 2% reduction in conflict would free up as much money as the global aid budget.
  • Report urges governments to improve peacefulness, especially amid COVID-19.
Keep reading Show less

The evolution of modern rainforests began with the dinosaur-killing asteroid

The lush biodiversity of South America's rainforests is rooted in one of the most cataclysmic events that ever struck Earth.

Velociraptor Dinosaur in the Rainforest

meen_na via Adobe Stock
Surprising Science
  • One especially mysterious thing about the asteroid impact, which killed the dinosaurs, is how it transformed Earth's tropical rainforests.
  • A recent study analyzed ancient fossils collected in modern-day Colombia to determine how tropical rainforests changed after the bolide impact.
  • The results highlight how nature is able to recover from cataclysmic events, though it may take millions of years.
Keep reading Show less