Comprehensive coverage

Human services are collapsing: can artificial intelligence be the lifeline?

Any public service of human help, such as mental health care or care for the elderly collapses. The artificial intelligence that will take over many jobs will leave us with the thing that is perhaps most important to us, the value we find in human effort for the sake of others.

Prof. Amit Baumel

Image created using Midjourney

Tam questions: Have you tried to make an appointment with a clinical psychologist at a public clinic? Have you tried to schedule treatment for your child with a speech therapist? Or maybe you were trying to identify a good institution to live in for a young graduate of the family who is on the continuum or for an elderly member of the family?

If you have been in this situation, you already know the problem. Any field of employment, in which there is a need for people to help other people to develop, to overcome a difficulty or a limitation, collapses. And it's not something personal against anyone. This happens in almost all western countries.

Here are just a few examples that we were privileged to be exposed to in Israel right in the first half of 2023:

In the field of teaching, there are not enough special education teachers. Thus for the summer the Ministry of Education in Israel sent a letter For parents of students on the autistic spectrum. In the letter he announced that the expected shortage of teaching staff would lead to an earlier end of school days.

In the field of nursing, there are not enough working hands to support the elderly, the elderly, and even people with disabilities, and the Minister of Labor Discusses further imports of workers from third world countries, this instead of increasing the caregivers' wages and providing them with adequate compensation.

in the field of public mental health, The branch collapsed. There are almost no psychologists in the public service, and if you or your child breaks down mentally, you will have to wait a year to receive the most appropriate treatment for you. It too, by the way, will be an abbreviated treatment, if only on behalf of the experts to speak, and not exactly what you really need.

People want to help other people, but…

This is not a story about a lack of people who want to help other people.

The higher educational institutions of special education, psychology, nursing, and paramedicine are full of students who would be happy to receive the training and work in teaching others, helping them get well, rehabilitate, live a good life. Humans want to do good to others, and this is perhaps the greatest charm of human society.

The story is that the salary offered for those who are supposed to provide these public services does not adequately express the skills required in the profession.

We underprice human help.

After all, if a teacher who takes care of our children so that they become good people and valuable to others, would receive, as of 2023, 15,000 NIS per month after a small number of years of internship - there would not be a lack of many high-quality teachers here. If a nursing person, one who provides a warm hand, and changes the diaper of Jose or an elderly person, would receive a similar salary, which he absolutely deserves - it is likely that there would not be a lack of such people here. If a clinical psychologist, whose role is to help people change their lives, and who has undergone 10 years of professional training, was offered a slightly higher salary in the public service, there would be no shortage of psychologists either.

What is happening, in human society, that leads us to underprice the services we are most proud of? The ones with human goodness and mutual help?

There are of course thousands of ways to Rome and I will suggest two. One that is related to emotion and tries to connect to our essence as human beings, and the other that is more mathematical, and tries to examine things in a slightly more analytical and critical way. And I have justification behind this choice, by the way: if there is something that is unique to us as a species, it is the special connection between being emotional beings and our ability to plan and carry out complex processing. We would not be human without this connection, and what am I if not human? (said the artificial intelligence that was programmed to write like this, or not...)

We are used to helping as part of a community team

The emotional perspective is related to the way in which we humans are built to act at our core - as part of a community. We are built to operate in groups of tens to hundreds of people, where we have a personal acquaintance with each person in the group. So even though civilizational development has allowed us to expand far beyond local communities and take over the world (which Pinky and the brain wanted but failed to do), our emotional needs and basic concepts regarding socializing processes with those around us have not changed - they work better in a small community.

From this angle, the tendency to underprice anything that has human help to another person, stems from the fact that it is something that we fundamentally expect to receive for free, from those close to us. They are the ones who are supposed to teach us, support us, feed us, hug, and comfort us. This thing, which is seen as so natural, is also seen unfortunately as something that is not special enough for the state to pay a lot of money for it. Of course, it can always be argued that the blanket (of the budget) is short, and that is true. It is still an important perspective because it indicates the order of priorities, and also that there are things we would prefer to receive from our relatives, only that the world does not allow this.

How much value do people provide when they get up in the morning to workה

The analytical perspective is related to more modern concepts of the economic market and lies in "the part of the people who work in the world in the economic market". This part expresses how much money flows, how much value is created, due to the fact that people get up in the morning and work. The complementary part is the part of capital in the economic market - how much value is created in real estate transactions (when we rent an apartment) or from computer programs that get up in the morning and work instead of people.

Global studies show that since the 90s of the last century, the share of labor of people from the economic market has decreased by 10%, and in contrast, the share of capital has increased by 10% (1,2). What this means, in simple terms, is that when we get up in the morning for work, the value we provide decreases and in contrast the value created from capital increases. Capital that is of course owned by a few.

There are a number of processes that have occurred since 1990 that affect this relationship, but the process that becomes the most significant is the introduction of computers into our lives. At Imlock, there are programmers who get up in the morning and work hard to develop software that reduces the need for people, and the result is that people still have work, but their work is worth less.

It is important to say: in the past, the last idea has been disproven by and large. There are many stories that every child on the street can already recite. There is the story of ice sellers who lost their jobs due to the development of refrigerators and operators who lost their jobs due to the development of telephone exchanges, but in fact the new jobs created in the market provided higher productivity and wages. There is also the story of the bankers in the 70s who stopped focusing on transferring cash to customers due to the development of the ATM, but actually freed up their time to devote their time to activities that required more talent.

But today the data as mentioned indicate a different situation - work brings in less capital than getting up in the morning and going to work, and thus people's livelihood is less sufficient.

All this being said before artificial intelligence enters the picture (which is right now), or should we say, lands on the value people provide in their work like a sledgehammer to flatten schnitzels.

Artificial intelligence actually allows software to be more independent in performing very complex activities. And this simply means that in the future artificial intelligence will be able to drive software or robots that will operate with greater skill than humans in many, many professions. She will be able to analyze better than surgeons, read contracts better than lawyers, issue reports better than computers, and also replace programmers. (For an overview and summary of the subject, I recommend watching Prof. Lechner's wonderful lecture at the Marker Conference.) There will be those who will benefit from this, but in most cases, as soon as the skill required for the operation decreases, the salary also decreases accordingly.

thats what left

When all this happens, what will humans be left with? What are we likely to ever value in humans?

As much as computers know how to beat any person at chess, but chess competitions between people are actually more popular than ever - we will always appreciate people's choice to help another person, teach them a thing or two about life and try to make it more pleasant and less painful for them. When people choose to make an effort for another, they are sacrificing their limited energy, so this is something we find a lot of value and meaning in.

In this sense, it may be true that AI will take over significant skills that will reduce the value that many people will provide at work, but it cannot take over the value we find in human help. remember? This is exactly the same value that in the past, in autonomous communities, we were used to receiving in full from those close to us and that today is underfunded.

Therefore, precisely the same artificial intelligence that will take over jobs should help human society mobilize resources in favor of more appropriate wages for human help professions. In such a situation, we don't hear any news about the lack of nursing staff, teachers or psychologists.

There are many who would be happy to work in these professions, if only they were adequately compensated.

1. Szymańska, A., & Zielenkiewicz, M. (2022). Declining Labor Income Share and Personal Income Inequality in Advanced Countries. Sustainability, 14(15), 9403.
2. Manyika, J., Mischke, J., Bughin, J., Woetzel, J., Krishnan, M., & Cudre, S. (2019). A new look at the declining labor share of income in the United States. McKinsey Global Institute Discussion Paper, 1-64.

Leave a Reply

Email will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismat to prevent spam messages. Click here to learn how your response data is processed.

Skip to content