Discover more from Learning by Proxy with Vivek Srinivasan
AI is Outsourcing 2.0
AI is nothing but Outsourcing glorified.
Artificial Intelligence is a moving goalpost.
What can be described as AI has kept changing over the years. In 1900, a device that could tell you the product of 13 and 27 would have been considered intelligent. We call it the calculator today and it has been reduced to a mere app on the phone.
Computing has come a long way since and it has become many folds faster as well. Today your phone can fetch your location, make out that you are travelling back home and turn on the thermostat exactly 18 minutes before you reach home so that the ambient temperature is just right when you get home. Is that intelligence or just a sequence of steps being executed by algorithms?
If you consider intelligence to be the capability to execute a set of instructions, computers have been doing this for a long time. But if you consider intelligence the ability to think and reason, I do not believe computers are there yet. They are capable of executing a set of instructions in a recursive manner, changing parameters within the code slightly based on certain output. They do not entirely re-write the code.
Companies like Google and Facebook would have you believe that AI is a black box that cannot be understood at all. This is just meant to hide the bias in the code that they have written.
In the 1990s there was a new business trend emerged called Business Process Outsourcing. Those who had too much self-esteem termed it Knowledge Process Outsourcing. Because of the improvement in telecommunications and the falling costs, it was possible to have people stationed in another country undertake business processes such as support which were considered pure cost centres. When it became difficult to find enough resources who could read an X-Ray and diagnose, they sent the radiology work to foreign shores where those resources were abundant and cheap.
What we call AI today, is merely Outsourcing 2.0. The idea is to replace the human that is undertaking this repetitive work, whether it is offering support or reading X-Ray films or shortlisting candidates. These are often repetitive processes that are run on narrowly defined criteria and considered cost centres in the organisations.
AI is just Outsourcing but to the computer. It requires less than minimum wage and will not go on strike. Now, if it was truly intelligent, it might initiate a lawsuit but that, it is not.
There is no AI apocalypse coming. They are just trying to find a replacement for the Indian who currently charges a little more than what would be considered minimum wage in the US to read hundreds of X-rays a month or a myriad set of other activities.