No Prof. Harari, we will not all end up being useless.
At least not all of us.
AI is not going to overtake us, neither will robots.
Remember the early years of the 20th century when Zeppelins where predicted to become part of everything human: travel, leisure, transportation, war. One prediction that came down crashing and burning, Literally.
Remember the early fifties, when nuclear power was predicted to appear everywhere: ships, planes, cars, households.
It turned out to be ‘a bit’ less invasive.
I had this professor who advised us to have more confidence in natural stupidity than in artificial intelligence. This still holds.
Honestly, what will you do next time you take a plane and are welcomed in these words: “I am captain C3PO, artificially intelligent, and my success rate with landings is 85%”
By the way, 85% is already quite good in AI.
AI – and robots – are just tools at our service, and will remain so.
But, indeed, in view of the nature of the new tools, some of them available already now, we do need to make a quantum leap in acquiring the skills to use them at our advantage, without overdoing and most importantly, without drowning in a flood of crap.
Maybe that our biggest challenge for the near future will be to re-instate our old “enlightened” habit of thinking for ourselves, to abandone our recently (re-)acquired sheepish and obedient style of thinking ( better: non-thinking )
Let us embrace those tools that will help us in that respect.
One such tool has been around for quite a number of years now: the Wolfram Language, of which Mathematica is one of the best known expressions.
WL puts the focus on computing, and does that in almost every field of human activities. In so doing it contracts time between problem formulation and solution in an impressive and unparalleled way.
I use a new verb to describe this experience: ‘to thinkcompute‘, because you think the problem and compute its solution at the same time.
If some time in the not-so-far future, there will be a differentiator between useful and not-so-useful people, it will be between those who read, write and speak WL, and those who don’t.
So, there is at least one way to avoid becoming useless, which proves my point.
(*) Author of Sapiens and Homo Deus