In our last +1, we talked about the fact that Americans check their phones 8 BILLION times every day. (Wow.)
We also talked about the fact that (at least 5 billion of) those 8 billion checks are essentially kryptonite for the love in your life.
But first, let’s talk about horses.
I live in a small town in Southern California called Ojai. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the very few places in the world where people ride their horses next to Teslas. (Hah.)
Now, of course, no one in town is getting around primarily via horses, but it’s always fun to see a few people on horseback cruising through town or to see a few horses “parked” outside the local cafe.
So… The other day I saw a fresh horseshoe print on my Trail. For whatever reason, I thought of Elon Musk’s talk to governors.
Note: I pretty much never watch YouTube videos or TED Talks. I read books. Period. (Hah.) But, a good friend of mine (thank you, Michael!) strongly encouraged me to watch this talk. So, I did. And, I’m glad I did. I highly recommend it for a fascinating look at one man’s vision of the future. (Check it out here.)
So… In this discussion, Elon talks about the future of cars. Long story short, he tells us that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, ALL cars will be self-driving. It’s not a question of IF, it’s a question of WHEN.
To make his point, he tells us that just as some people still ride horses for fun, none of us ride horses as a primary means of transportation these days. Likewise, some people will have fun driving a car around in the future, but that won’t be the primary means of transportation in x years.
That, my friends, is what I thought of when I saw a horseshoe print in the dust of my Trail. (Hah.)
Well, that and a passage from Harari’s new book.
In a chapter on “Work” he talks about the HUGE shifts in our global economy that will result from the advances in artificial technology.
He tells us: “The benefits for human society are likely to be immense. AI doctors could provide far better and cheaper healthcare for billions of people, particularly for those who currently receive no healthcare at all. Thanks to learning algorithms and biometric sensors, a poor villager in an underdeveloped country might come to enjoy far better healthcare via her smartphone than the richest person in the world gets today from the most advanced urban hospital.
Similarly, self-driving vehicles could provide people with much better transportation services, and in particular reduce mortality from traffic accidents. Today close to 1.25 million people are killed annually in traffic accidents (twice the number killed by war, crime, and terrorism combined). More than 90 percent of those accidents are caused by human errors: somebody drinking alcohol and driving, somebody texting a message while driving, somebody falling asleep at the wheel, somebody daydreaming instead of paying attention to the road. … Self-driving vehicles will never do any of those things. Though they suffer from their own problems and limitations, and though some accidents are inevitable, replacing all human drivers by computers is expected to reduce deaths and injuries on the road by about 90 percent. In other words, switching to autonomous vehicles is likely to save the lives of one million people every year.
It would therefore be madness to block automation in fields such as transport and healthcare just in order to protect human jobs. After all, what we ultimately ought to protect is humans—not jobs. Displaced drivers and doctors will just have to find something else to do.”
Of course, the long-term economic ramifications of all this are beyond the scope of Today’s +1.
Two things I want to focus on.
First: Let’s take a moment to appreciate just how quickly our world is changing and that a lot of the things we take for granted as the peak of sophistication will be viewed, in the not-so-distant future, as a bit like riding a horse.
Second: You know what Harari tells us is the most important quality for us to cultivate (and to teach our children) to prepare for such a rapidly changing world?
Well, he says that “for every dollar and ever minute we invest in improving artificial intelligence, it would be wise to invest a dollar and a minute in advancing human consciousness.”
In short, we need to Optimize.