TR: Most of us know technology is displacing jobs. If you look 100 or 200 years ago, 80% of us were farmers. Now it’s less than three percent. We feed the whole world. So those jobs disappeared, and they were replaced by other jobs. No one ever thought that being a webmaster or writing copy for websites would be something. But the difference today is that the pace of change is so different.
So for my first question – is technology really displacing jobs? Or are they just being replaced? And if that’s currently true, do you see that continuing where we’ll be able to destroy certain jobs, create new ones, become more productive as human beings, and do things that aren’t so repetitive – but that are more meaningful? Or are we going to get into such a tempo, like Ray [Kurzweil] talks about, where [we get to a] velocity where all of the sudden we have people out of work – and you’ve got the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer? Where do you see that, and how do we address it?
PD: The challenge is that the data is on both sides of the fence, right? So there’s no question that the speed of disruption is increasing. We’re seeing Amazon with these automated shops you go into – there’s no cashier or checkout person, no one’s stocking. Eventually it’s going to be robots and AI taking the majority of these jobs. And the stats that we’ve seen, is that 40, 50, 60 percent of jobs domestically – even a larger percentage overseas in the developing world – are getting lost.And the question is, can we uplift ourselves and actually partner with AI and robotics to do that? I don’t know. But what I do know is I see a lot of fear. And I think this is where our partnership comes in. We want to talk about what the stats are showing us, but also, how you reduce that fear in people because it’s hitting not only our income, but our sense of purpose.
TR: Yeah, I agree. People have two extremes. They’re either a technology person and [believe] technology solves everything, and it’ll be perfect no matter what. I think that’s true long-term – but I don’t know if it’s going to be true in the short-term because of the pace of change. And then there’s the other people [that believe] it’s the end of time because we’re going to have total anarchy. The truth is probably somewhere in between the two, and we both know that.
PD: I mean, I just sat down literally last week, with our mutual friend, Ray Kurzweil. We were talking about brain computer interface, right? Ray’s prediction is that in the early 2030s, we will be connecting our neocortex with the cloud – and you can spin up a million times better memory or processing power […] So at the end of the day, what does a job mean? Most people have a job…
TR: …But they don’t necessarily love their job. It’s dread for most people. When I ask people, “What do you do? What’s your work, what’s your mission, or what’s your career?” If they say “work,” it is work. If they say “career,” there’s a more compelling aspect to it. They’re building something. If it’s their mission, they’ll do it 24 hours a day […] because it feeds them. So it’s finding the meaning that is really the critical piece.
I think the opportunity that technology brings is freeing up those repetitive tasks that do not require you to really grow and expand as a spirit, as a soul, as a human being. The question is the bridge. So if we have this massive disruption, and if it happens too quickly, what’s your view of Universal Basic Income (UBI)?