I've been listening to various debates on the potential impact of AI and the two sides seem to boil their arguments down to
AI is dangerous because it will mean the extinction of humanity as machines that can improve themselves will do it so rapidly as to quickly make the gulf between humans and AI like the gulf between ants and us.
- AI is awesome because it will free us from menial jobs leaving us to be infinitely creative.
Recently, Bill Gates stated that it will be a net positive because we'll all have a lot more free time.
What I am not seeing in these debates/discussions is any discussion of the simple fact that "free time" is actually "unpaid free time". Let's just assume that AI will, in fact, free up a lot of time by taking over jobs that currently require human intervention (cashier jobs seem to be the current hot topic). Presumably all of these unemployed cashiers are now free to be "infinitely" creative. Also assuming, of course that cashiers are actually, on the whole, very creative people who just lack the opportunity to explore their creativity - not to denigrate cashiers, some of whom are certainly stuck in their jobs due to circumstances beyond their control. But given the free time, where will they also get the money they need in order to obtain the education they likely need to acquire the knowledge/skills upon which this creativity can build? Any fire needs fuel and creativity, like fire, cannot exist in a vacuum.
The invention of powered machines allowed one farmer to produce as much food as 1000 did formerly. The introduction of farm machinery started a mass migration of people to cities where many found work in factories that also arose from the industrial revolution. But in this new revolution there will be no work for the armies of the newly unemployed.
Someone once said that civilization consists of billions of average people being dragged upward by a few thousand very gifted individuals. Let's face it, most people don't have a creative thought more original than, "hey. pet rocks woud be an awesome thing". Or even "hold the phone, Chuck. What if we feed mayonnaise to the tuna fish before we kill them and put them in the cass?".