One of the fears about machine intelligence focuses on the marginalization of humans. Although I for one welcome our machine overlords, I do not believe that this future needs to be dystopian. Instead, it will perhaps usher in a new era of all humans living the life of the idle rich.
This is the prediction of Hans Moravec. He has a good track record of predicting the development of machine intelligence and he sees a day in the next few decades where machines will have advanced to the point that they provide for all of our needs. Humans, and Moravec means all humans, will no longer have to perform work in order to provide for themselves; our needs and wants will be taken care of for us.
One of the reasons this future seems possible is that machines may prove to be much more efficient than we are. Consider the example of Google’s driverless car. The small fleet has logged over 300,000 miles on actual roads with only one accident (the driverless car was rear ended by a human driver). It is expected that when these cars come into general service, they will not only be safer but use the existing roads more efficiently and save energy.
Now expand this notion to all activities being performed by machines. Would they be so much more efficient that they would simply be better at using the existing resources than we are currently? Given that many people place the blame for world hunger not on lack of food but on poor distribution, could machines solve this problem for us? What other inefficiencies would they find?
My question is, in a world where there was no longer any need for work to provide for our needs and comforts would there still be a need for literacy? Would the machines, in addition to supplying our physical needs also supply us with our informational needs?
Attached link is to Moravec’s predictions: