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The future of work: like Ficus

The answer to the threats of artificial intelligence on the labor market: lateral roots

Ficus tree in surreal style. Created using Mid Journey software by Dr.Roey Tsezana
Ficus tree in surreal style. Created using Mid Journey software by Dr.Roey Tsezana

"I think I'm going to lose my job." My friend Haymon informed me gloomily.

"Don't disturb." I teased him. Such announcements are not unusual from Chaimon's mouth, and new ones arrive in the mornings. Sometimes also at noon, in the evening and at three in the morning on WhatsApp. "I'm painting now."

"I'm serious." he insisted.

"me too." I said "look at this. I just managed to work with this AI platform - Midjourney - and it draws according to my instructions. Now I'm working on my new masterpiece: a ficus tree in a surreal style."

"That's exactly what I mean!" He exploded. "She draws together with you? So she finishes the work for the painters! And not only them. Did you hear that BuzzFeed announced that the comics they produce using artificial intelligence make readers spend forty percent more time than human-produced comics[1]? Or that magazines like Cnet and Men's Health publish articles produced entirely by artificial intelligence[2] [3]? Or that BMW announced it would avoid hiring 7,800 new employees because artificial intelligence could do the jobs they were supposed to do at the company[4]? or – “

"You need side roots." I mused aloud.


"You need side roots." I repeated my words. "The artificial intelligence drew me a ficus with a big and strong trunk, and that's it. But ficuses cannot survive well if they rely only on their stem. When times of need come, they need help from the side. That's why the smart ficuses grow lateral roots."

Chaimon glared at me. "I'm talking to you about the fact that we are all in danger! I'm in danger! Do you know what I do at my job? I am a programmer. What do you think, that artificial intelligence will not soon know how to do exactly what I do? You know, and even better! There is CoPilot, which is an artificial intelligence that writes parts of code by itself, and now its competitor from Google - they call it Codey[5]. And none of them are perfect, but the direction is already clear. They will take my job, and I don't know what to do."

I nodded and finished entering the new prompt for the AI. The results began to appear on the screen.

"look at this." I said "Lateral roots. This is one of the most special characteristics of the ficus. It grows roots from its branches, several meters away from the trunk. He is not content with just one source of nutrients, but sends his roots far, far away. They come down from the branches and connect to the ground and create, as it were, new races. If a certain area of ​​the soil starts to dry out, the ficus can take advantage of other opportunities with its lateral roots.”

I sent Haimon a look. side.

"We have something to learn from the ficus. Artificial intelligence is about to conquer field after field, and this means that those who limit themselves in advance to only one specific job will find themselves in serious trouble sooner or later. We all need to acquire more skills for ourselves, to send roots to the sides."

Haymon plopped down on the chair next to me. "But I put everything into the job I have now. It took me over ten years to acquire the skill I have! I can't leave everything behind and jump into… hobbies!”

"The ficus only sends out lateral roots." I said again patiently. "He does not burn his original race. He simply benefits from additional food sources, and creates insurance for himself for the future. You should be like Ficus.”

I focused on the branches, and saw a new form emerging from them. A new idea emerged, and my fingers moved on a keyboard. The next version of the painting added a man with a gray beard and piercing eyes who stared at the imaginary camera. He would look more dignified if he didn't sit on the tree branch like a gloomy bird.

"Like a ficus." I repeated myself. "And maybe also like Pasteur."

"How is Louis Pasteur related to ficuses?"

"Pasteur coined the famous saying - fortune does not smile except for those who are well prepared for its arrival." I said "Those who want to be prepared for the future, especially in such a turbulent time, need to spread roots everywhere. He should be gifted with a set of skills from different fields, which will allow him to identify new opportunities quickly. He needs to know how to write code with artificial intelligence, draw with artificial intelligence, compose poems with artificial intelligence, write a supplementary book with - or without - artificial intelligence, and much more. Each such skill can connect with others to provide an innovative and important answer to the tasks of the future. Maybe simple code writing will disappear, but its place will be replaced by the poets-coders, and if you don't learn poetry - you won't be ready for this future. Or maybe there will be a need to program robotic farms, and this will be something that only people who have also acquired experience in working the soil will be able to do."

"But in the end, in the end artificial intelligence will swallow all the jobs." said Haymon in despair. "What will we have left?"

I critically reviewed the final drawing. A bushy tree with lateral roots all around, a prophet of wrath as if growing out of it and mists that hide the horizon.

"I do not know." I said "Perhaps the only things that will still matter are the meanings that we as humans feed into our works. Not only the products themselves will be important, but also the creative process itself, which will testify that a person invested himself, his thoughts, time and energy to produce them. Perhaps the only thing that will be important is the human story behind the work."

I improved the resolution of the drawing, and sent it to print.

"And while we're talking," I said, "maybe you want to buy a new painting of mine? I call him - Ficus of despair and hope."






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