“The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.”
– B.F. Skinner
As the silver storm clouds of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation gather over the Silver State, one cannot help but feel a sense of foreboding. Yes, Nevadans, the robots are coming, and they have a thirst for jobs. A recent report by NetVoucherCodes reveals that automation and AI could put a staggering 214,940 jobs in Nevada at risk in the coming years. You read that right – nearly 20 percent of all jobs. Nevada is on the precipice of great change – good or bad, only time will tell.
To be clear. I’m not against technology or progress, if that is what it turns out to be. Efficiency, innovation and productivity are commendable and what every business strives for. But folks, at what cost? The cost of livelihoods, communities and dreams? When we replace Bob, the diligent assembly line worker, with a robot, where does Bob go? How does he feed his family, or pay for his child’s education? We must not become slaves to the very tools meant to serve us.
Proponents of AI will tell you it’s all about improving products and cutting costs. Excellent! But ask yourself, who benefits? Large technology companies, that’s who. While they amass wealth, the common man gets crumbs. The day Microsoft, Apple and other tech behemoths line their pockets without the sweat and toil of human hands may very well be the day the soul of capitalism loses its pulse. The question is, do these tech companies have any responsibility to the masses who lost their jobs in the automation. While I am not advocating owing them a living by establishing some type of social welfare system or any other entitlement benefits; I am suggesting the AI innovators need to be part of the solution and help come up with other career opportunities that utilize the Bobs of the world.
I believe there is hope! Nevada, land of dreamers and doers, must rise. We need to demand that our leaders and top dogs take proactive measures. First and foremost, let’s focus on retraining and reskilling. Let’s ensure that Bob, when replaced by a robot, is not left out in the cold. Let’s equip him with new skills and help him find new opportunities.
This can be done if Nevada’s businesses, large and small, embrace a responsible transition. Automation should be a complement, not a replacement. Business leaders must balance their pursuit of profits with a commitment to their communities. For once, let’s not throw humanity under the bus. It seems to me, this can be an opportunity to expand our businesses into new frontiers utilizing the folks being replaced by AI. Think bigger, no longer for yourself, but for the common man. Practice the Golden Rule – treat others like you’d like to be treated.
Education is also key – let’s revolutionize it. Let’s put some of our great minds and entrepreneurs to work to improve the human condition. AI or not, it’s past time to time for us to come up with new systems of education that educate rather than entitle or make mediocre. We must prepare our children for a world where they might not just compete with each other but with robots too. Entrepreneurship, critical thinking, adaptability – these should be the cornerstones of our education system. This is not just an economic issue; it’s about preserving the human spirit.
CALL TO ACTION: Nevadans, this is our moment. Let’s engage our representatives, community leaders, educators and business leaders. Let’s work together to create a Nevada that embraces the future, but not at the expense of its people. And business leaders, remember – wealth is meaningless without the rich tapestry of community. We must not let storm clouds of change drown our spirit. The Battle Born state has weathered many storms, and it’s up to us whether we will weather this one too.