A short, provocative article on the practical side of navigating toward our emergent future. A bit disconcerting as well, in particular touching on two books that fall into the must-read category for those interested in this topic (Weapons of Math Destruction, and The Great Leveler, both described in the article).

Technology evangelists dream about a future where we’re all liberated from the more mundane aspects of our jobs by artificial intelligence. Other futurists go further, imagining AI will enable us to become superhuman, enhancing our intelligence, abandoning our mortal bodies, and uploading ourselves to the cloud.

In the long term, automation of labor might benefit the human species immensely. But in the short term, it has all kinds of potential pitfalls, especially in exacerbating inequality within societies where AI takes on a larger role.

Low-wage jobs are five times more likely to be automated than high-wage jobs. A greater proportion of jobs held by women are likely to be automated. The solution that’s often suggested is that people should simply “retrain”; but if no funding or assistance is provided, this burden is too much to bear.