Andrew McAfee is a scientist at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). There he has co-founded the Digital Economy Initiative. This specialist in the future of employment, American of 51 years, passed a few weeks ago by the Oslo Innovation Week (Norway) where he told his vision of how data and artificial intelligence are going to change our work, the economy and our society.
Question. Are job interviews not useful?
Answer. No. You should not interview anyone. They are a waste of time. The human resources departments do what they are told. Many of them are not very creative. We have to work harder to find alternatives.
P. The interviews They have those questions about what you would do in such a situation. He says that the interviewer tends to hire the person who answers what he would do.
R. We are not good at assessing capabilities or how someone would fit into the company.
P. This process leads to business monoculture.
R. Diversity in points of view is valuable for all those who try to innovate. If you continue to hire the same people who remind you of you, you will have a monoculture. It's one of the fair criticisms we heard about Silicon Valley. When I go to these companies, people are very similar. Although the companies are working to improve it.
If you continue to hire the same people who remind you of you, you will have a monoculture. It's one of the fair criticisms we hear about Silicon Valley
P. Artificial intelligence has won the champion of Alpha Go, one of the most sophisticated strategy games. The machine made some movement completely unsuspected. A champion, Ke Jie, tweeted: "I would say that not a single human has touched the edge of the truth of Alpha Go."
R. In many other fields we do not know what awaits us. There is a great quote from a British biologist of the last century: "It is not that nature is more strange than you imagine, nature is more strange than you can imagine". There are aspects of our world that are ridiculously complex.
P. But AlphaGo is something we have created.
R. We have also created the stock markets and we do not understand them. We have the ability to create these immensely complicated things and we can understand them little by little.
P. He has said that artificial intelligence will be the great change of this century because it is very fast, it is everywhere and it is still its first days.
R. And its scale. It can reach millions of people fast, as in the example of bike sharing. O Instagram, which was founded after Facebook and has more than 1,000 million users.
P. And it's just the beginning.
R. When I think about our incredible capacity to improve our health, our diet in this century … The problem is that we do not identify human beings as consumers but as workers. Our sympathies are with the workers and with their fear of losing their current job.
P. The academic consensus is that technology will not steal jobs.
R. When I speak with some academics, what they tell me is that they have been worried about huge job losses because of technology for two centuries. And it has never happened. When I go to Silicon Valley, they tell me: this time is different, this time it will happen. I do not know what will happen. My instinct tells me not in the short term but at some point in the 21st century we are going to build economies that will not need much human work.
P. What seems reasonable is that the jobs of the American middle class after the Second World War will not be equal.
R. Routine jobs are going to disappear. The trend is now very clear: we do not have a problem of quantity of employment, but of quality of employment. Will we have a quantity problem one day? My intuition is yes, but not soon. Let's solve the problem we have today.
P. The inequality?
R. No. I think stagnation and perceived inequality are the problem.
R. Yes. Imagine this hypothetical case. An economy that grows, that lives a huge technological change. The factories close for the automation, the farms do not need so many people, the jobs move to the cities to the service sector. That economy has not been hijacked, nothing unfair happens, there is not a bad protagonist in that economy. But many people may perceive that they do not receive the treatment for which they signed. There is a perceived injustice in that economy. That country can go in all kinds of bad directions: it can choose terrible leaders, for example.
P. The fault is always someone's fault.
R. It is not inequality as such that bothers people but injustice and stagnation in their lives. Let's solve those problems. But I do not want to believe is that the existence of Jeff Bezos is a problem. I want to repeat one more time. All large concentrations of power demand vigilance. We have to be careful. A free press is very important, research is very important, some types of transparency are very important. But I do not believe that all large concentrations of power must be broken or destroyed.
My instinct tells me not in the short term but at some point in the 21st century we will build economies that will not need much human work
P. How is perceived injustice solved?
R. It is a very difficult question. I dedicate a good part of my time to that. It is said that universal income. I do not think so. With a government check of $ 600 will everything go well? It's a joke. Of course not.
P. Why not?
R. A big difference between the United States and Europe is that the communities in Europe are old, prior to the Industrial Revolution. Not so in the US: almost all our cities and towns are products of the industrial era and were born around some company. When it disappears, we see the stress of American society: higher suicide rates, more deaths from opiates. Is that because people do not have enough money? It's a ridiculous way of looking at it.
P. With the flood of data, privacy will be a problem.
R. There is a great separation in the world: between people who think that the rest of humanity is well informed and can make decent decisions about them and another group that thinks that the rest of humanity is not well informed and does not know how to make correct decisions . Facebook is a great example. There are 2.2 billion people who have an account on Facebook: are they all unaware of the terms of their agreement or are they scammed by Facebook? Are 2,200 million people dumb? This is another way of looking at it: 2,200 million people have done some kind of evaluation of that offer and have said that in agreement, I will use all this for free and in exchange you can show me personalized ads. That really is the exchange.
P. But there is this other argument: Google has much more information about us than the Stasi.
R. Yes, of course, much more. But I ask this question: what is the worst thing we know that Google has done with that information?
P. We do not know yet.
R. Waiting is a terrible response.
P. China can give an idea.
R. China is not Google. We know that authoritarian countries do a painful job of caring for the rights of their people. But that's not because of technology, but because it's authoritarian countries. China did not expect there to be powerful technology to put people in jail. They already did it in the bad technology era. What makes the United States or Spain free countries is not the state of technology but the state of its laws. States do not need cutting-edge technology to repress you.