Home AI The AI Revolution | Are Humans Being Replaced?
The AI Revolution | Are Humans Being Replaced?

The AI Revolution | Are Humans Being Replaced?


In a recently published article, New York Times opinion columnist David Brooks quotes scientist Douglas Hofstadter for its title, “Human Beings Are Soon Going to Be Eclipsed.” Mr. Brooks writes that he was happy when he read a Hofstadter essay from 2018 that argued that Google Translate was a shallow product, not capable of replacing a human translator’s creative abilities.

Mr. Brooks noted that over the past few months, he has become an AI limitationist. What he means by using that term is that AI is a great tool but will never be capable of replacing a human mind. The article written by Hofstadter made him happy because it appeared that Hofstadter is an AI limitationist as well.

After reading the 2018 essay, Mr. Brooks was startled when he read in a recent AI newsletter that Douglas Hofstadter had changed his mind about AI. He followed a link in the article and heard Hofstadter say on a podcast that “human beings are soon going to be eclipsed.”

As only someone with David Brooks’ contact list can do, he called Douglas Hofstadter to find out why he had changed his mind. Hofstadter told him that ChatGPT was “’jumping through hoops I would never have imagined it could. It’s just scaring the daylights out of me.’”

According to Mr. Brooks, Hofstadter has argued that “intelligence is the ability to look at a complex situation and find its essence.” Humans mostly use analogy as the way to simplify complex situations. Hofstadter said that AI could not do this type of thinking as recently as two years ago. However, it’s now doing this all the time. If AI can do this type of thinking, Hofstadter concludes that it is developing consciousness.

Hearing Hofstadter say that shook Brooks. However, he still sees AI as an inanimate tool. His viewpoint as an AI limitationist has been jarred. He writes that Hofstadter is essentially saying that if AI can solve intellectual problems (specifically defined above), then who are we to say that it is not thinking. Lastly, Hofstadter argues that AI’s brains are improving at an astonishing rate, while humans’ brains are not.

I must thank a friend of mine for sending me a link to David Brooks’ essay. My opinion about AI is closer to Hofstadter’s than it is to Brooks.’ However, if I were to rewrite Brooks’ title, I would title it “Humans With a Poor Education Will Be Eclipsed by AI.” If the advent of AI isn’t a wakeup call for every educator, education administrator, and policymaker; than he/she is clearly asleep at the switch.

Sit back and read Brooks’ opinion piece and Hofstadter’s comments. They’re reporting that AI is doing some wonderfully intelligent things at speeds faster than most humans can. I would categorize Brooks and Hofstadter as being above average if not superior to most humans in intelligence. We are in trouble when our above average intelligence people worry about AI.

But that is what I am worried about. I am a beneficiary of great education and post-education experiences. People of average and below average intelligence are going to lose their jobs. Why am I certain of this? Because people of above average intelligence are starting to pay attention to AI and in some cases, are soaking up as much knowledge and familiarity about these tools as they can to avoid the fate of the ignorant worker.

The CEO of a several thousand employee public company related to me last week that he told his employees that they don’t “have to” learn how to use ChatGPT and other AI tools. He followed that up with “but your replacements will know how to use ChatGPT and other AI tools.” A friend of mine reported that he had dinner with another CEO of a company that employed hundreds of programmers and software engineers. The CEO predicted that AI would replace many of the company’s employees on the software side.

While ChatGPT may be able to write a poem in iambic pentameter like Shakespeare or generate a spooky story in the style of Stephen King, it’s not going to match either of those writers in terms of their genius and creativity. But Shakespeare and Stephen King are above average humans.

If we don’t transform our education system to successfully teach our citizens how to think critically and use these new AI tools as assistants to their learning and skilling, the majority will be left behind. AI will replace many jobs. The World Economic Forum predicted that in their Future of Jobs 2023 report. They added that AI would also create jobs. I believe their prediction for the creation of jobs by AI presupposes that people can enhance their standing as a worker by learning how to use AI tools. What if they can’t because they haven’t learned to be critical thinkers because they’ve received a poor education? Time is running out and AI is causing the clock to run faster and faster.

Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity by the U.S. Secretary of Education in 2019. He also serves as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), as a Trustee of The American College of Financial Services, as a member of the board of Our Community Salutes - USA, and as a member and chair of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.


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