A trap to end human employment?

Why AI is not the full story about our new class based society

Mark Burgess

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Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. I stumbled across a website of public speakers recently–individuals who could be hired to talk at company events on a wide variety of topics for a (not inconsiderable) fee. At first I thought: this is interesting, perhaps I could join! But then I baulked. I had only heard of one person on the list out of a hundred or more, so who were these people? They seemed to be simply a club of business colleagues who had figured out that they could leverage the trust they had in one another to make money, pontificating on subjects in a hopefully entertaining way. But what did they really know? They had no obvious credentials. Why should anyone trust what they had to say? But, of course, the answer is simple: trust is not a rational calculation.

Trust in the Internet era

Trust is an interesting aspect of human judgement. It works the same online as offline, but our habits are somewhat different. Its two parts (trust and trustworthiness) seem to work together as a coarse regulator of impressions, shaping our preferences and keeping us out of trouble. The role of trust in the 21st century is interesting, not only for conventional society, but on web forums, in computer games, and in virtual reality. But it’s a lazy judgement, so we afford it to things we believe we “know” well by default: starting with tribe and kin.

The names on the speaker site were all people from Norway’s business elite, with only a few public figures like journalists to lend credibility: a group of well-to-do local socialites involved in the money and leadership business. Who would trust them? Of course, their own tribe. The question of what they might know is perhaps not really important to their listeners. Trust means you’re not so much listening to the details as accepting the promise. We live for good stories after all, not for accurate facts. Trust is not about accuracy, after all, yet it’s a powerful impulse that keeps people both in and out of exclusive clubs.

The use of storytelling to build and maintain trust is something that makes the world of leadership different from the world of the “hands-on” domain-experts. For trained workers, the stories told are more like recipes aand yarns about work experience. Skilled jobs are easier to automate, because such clearly identifiable procedural stories about…

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Mark Burgess

@markburgess_osl on Twitter and Instagram. Science, research, technology advisor and author - see Http://markburgess.org and Https://chitek-i.org