I read this article – Ted Chiang, “Will AI Become the New McKinsey?” The New Yorker, May 4, 2023 – because I wanted to find out who McKinsey was.
Go ahead, laugh.
Capitalism is the machine that will do whatever it takes to prevent us from turning it off, and the most successful weapon in its arsenal has been its campaign to prevent us from considering any alternatives.
If there is any lesson that we should take from stories about genies granting wishes, it’s that the desire to get something without effort is the real problem. Think about the story of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” in which the apprentice casts a spell to make broomsticks carry water but is unable to make them stop. The lesson of that story is not that magic is impossible to control: at the end of the story, the sorcerer comes back and immediately fixes the mess the apprentice made. The lesson is that you can’t get out of doing the hard work. The apprentice wanted to avoid his chores, and looking for a shortcut was what got him into trouble.
No one enjoys thinking about their complicity in the injustices of the world.
So I was glad I read it, although it was sobering. A lot of food for thought.
Image: “Healing of the Possessed,” Anonymous Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons