I want to tie together two separate posts on Marginal Revolution that together make a point I’ve been meaning to make. Recently, Alex wrote about how Genetic Engineering may help humans compete against AI in future labor markets. He also points to other human advancing technologies as well:
…In the not so long run it’s not about computers substituting for labor or even complementing labor, it’s about designing labor to complement computers (and vice-versa). Think about how quickly the phone has migrated from the desk, to the hand, to the ear, to the ear canal. The technology to enhance humanity with access to the internet is literally burying itself into our heads, call it I-fi. There is more to come.
The problem is we are framing the question as being about how would we would compete with AI, and we see ourselves as quite helpless. But how would a librarian circa 1950 compete today against Google at the task of helping a student find relevant information quickly? Well they wouldn’t stand a chance, as they’d slowly shuffle through card catalogs based on the Dewey Decimal System. But, how does a librarian today, equipped with the all of their modern tools, databases, compete against Google? In many instances, Google serves the student best. But today’s librarians equipped with all their modern training and tools are still extremely useful resources for students doing research, despite the existence of Google and dozens of other similar tools. The point is we shouldn’t think about our current selves competing against AI, but our future selves and ancestors with all of the computer based knowledge and skills they will have.
This brings me to the second point from MR, this time from Tyler, about playing chess with and against computers:
If the computer is set at 2200 strength, “me plus the computer” (I override it every now and then) almost always beats “the computer alone.” Often we beat “the computer alone” very badly. If the computer is set at full strength, my counsel is worth much less, although it is not valueless.
The future will not be just you against AI in the labor markets, but you and AI against AI alone. One way to be more successful in the future will be to learn to work well with atomistic decision machines that are efficiently and logically maximizing some objective criteria in a raw emotionless matter. Both Tyler and Alex have a good head start, having spent so much time with Robin Hanson.