Rice University computer scientist
Moshe Vardi expects that within 30 years machines will be capable of doing
almost any job that a human now can.
“We are approaching a time when
machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task,” Vardi says. “I
believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us.”
Vardi—a member of the National
Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Science who holds several
distinguished titles at Rice University—maintains that the advancement of
artificial intelligence (AI) is increasing even as existing robotic and AI
technologies eliminate middle-class jobs.
He does add some people believe
that future advances in automation will ultimately benefit humans, just as
automation has benefited society since the dawn of the industrial age.
But even if the global economic system can be
restructured to enable billions of people to live leisurely, without work,
Vardi questions whether it would benefit humanity. “Humanity is about to face
perhaps its greatest challenge ever, which is finding meaning in life after the
end of ‘In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,’” he says. Before human
labor becomes obsolete, Vardi says we’ll need to rise to the occasion and meet