Eric Schmidt, former Google Ceo, says that Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, is “exactly wrong” about Artificial Intelligence (AI). I dare suggest that Schmidt’s vision may not be “exactly complete”.

In the interview linked above, Schmidt says that Musk doesn’t see that “AI and machine learning are so fundamentally good for humanity.” As those new solutions emerge, says Schmidt, they will be “net positive for jobs”, and added that (emphasis mine):

  1. data shows “workers who work in jobs where the job gets more complicated get higher wages - if they can be helped to do it.
  2. there will be “too many jobs” because, as society ages, “there won’t be enough people working and paying taxes to fund crucial services”.

Let’s complete that picture

Point 1 contains an “if” as big as a mountain, that makes it completely moot, or at least not quick enough to make any positive difference in the next twenty years. Even if tomorrow someone did create enough “more complicated jobs” to replace all the current ones lost to automation, how many of the workers who lost those jobs could realistically “be helped” to get the new ones? How many of them, that is, could objectively get the new skills they would need, but above all get them in time to not end up in the streets? A tiny minority, surely.

Point 2 is even easier to confute, if you just compare for ten seconds international migration estimates with the already proven effectiveness of barriers like “border fences”, or the Mediterranean:

Eric Schmidt's vision about AI may not be "exactly complete" /img/mexican-border-fence.jpg
Not enough people to work in, or for, low skilled crucial services? Hold my beer while I cross this!
Eric Schmidt's vision about AI may not be "exactly complete" /img/migrants-in-mediterranean.jpg
Artificial Intelligence, here we come!

In the next two or three decades “there won’t be enough people”… only in places that can actually block all refugees and migrants, and already are technically and culturally prepared to deal with all the consequences, both good and bad ones. What places are those? Japan, Iceland, maybe Australia and New Zealand? What about all the others?