What is your background briefly?
Philosophy graduate, journalist, marketer, MBA, strategy consultant, company director and CEO.
Reading lots of science fiction made me think that intelligent machines were inevitable, but not for millennia. Reading Ray Kurzweil in 1999 made me think it could happen faster, and got me thinking about the potential downsides which he seemed almost wilfully to ignore.
Is it a logical progression to what you do now?
Nothing in my career has been logical or even deliberate!
1 min pitch for what you do now?
I write and give talks about the likely impact of artificial intelligence. I advocate for more awareness of the enormous changes that are coming – the two singularities. I believe the outcomes can be wonderful, but only if we navigate the changes intelligently.
— Calum Chace (@cccalum) June 4, 2017
Do you wish you had moved onto this path sooner?
No, I enjoyed my career in business, and I think my timing for entering the AI writing and speaking business was about right.
The books are great, and look like you’re having fun too, what has the response been?
Thank you. How can you tell I’m having fun? (You’re right – I am.) The response has been great. The books have been consistently in Amazon’s AI bestsellers list, and the feedback on my talks has always been very positive. So far.
What’s next for you?
More of the same, really. I’m concerned that too few people are taking seriously the prospect of widespread unemployability within a generation, and the fact that there may well be a panic about that prospect in the next few years. That panic could have major adverse political, economic and social effects. Before the panic arises, our political and business leaders must develop and agree a plausible and reassuring plan.
Of course I could be wrong, but even if I am, what would be the harm in drawing up a plan for the scenario in which I’m right? Whereas if I’m right and we don’t develop this plan, the consequences could be very ugly.
The economic singularity brings massive challenges, yes Finland are trailing a form of the the universal social payment, but as you said it is only a ‘basic’ allowance, how on earth do we manage this?
I don’t have all the answers, but my hunch is that the best solution is a version of what people call the Star Trek economy, in which machines are so efficient that they make almost all the goods and services that we need so cheaply that you hardly need any income at all to enjoy a good, fulfilling life.
Wouldn’t that be great!
How can / is it even possible / for people to future-proof their careers?
The cynical answer to this is that if and when the economic singularity hits, it is going to be even more helpful than usual to be wealthy rather than poor. So make a lot of money.
Less cynically, the last people working will probably be coaching (not programming) intelligent machines. So get into machine learning if you are bright and determined.
But if we manage the transition through the economic singularity well then everyone will have a lot more leisure. In which case it would be smart to think of your education as being vacational rather than vocational. A well-stocked mind will be better placed to enjoy the post-jobs world, so get a great all-round education, including science, social science and the arts.
How can people find out more about you?
1. Read my books. 2. Visit my blog at www.pandoras-brain.com