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#1 Fist or hammer - which tool is better to drive a nail into the wall?

Interview Sequences with Leon Tsvasman powered by "Intelligent World"*

Intelligent World: Dr. Tsvasman, perhaps from a general perspective - what can AI systems do better than humans, in which areas do humans remain stronger?

Tsvasman: If I may “defuse” this question a little: The comparison of humans and machines would only be okay if we didn't regard the two as competitors. A human would not use his fist to hammer a nail into the wall. We also do not call for a fist-hammer competition to solve this particular problem. Nor does a runner compete against a car. The relationship between humans and artificial intelligence is no different.

Our history has forced us to live off industrial work as highly specialized workers. But that does not mean that we are predestined for this role. Such human activities were almost always a substitute performance until a technical solution was found: muscle power was replaced by motors or mental arithmetic by electronic computers.

A tool - no matter how universal - always requires a human decision about its use. From an economic point of view, a tool must above all be efficient, i.e. it must do the job properly. Human decisions, on the other hand, should be effective - that is, do the right job. A person can drive nails in with a hammer more efficiently than with his or someone else's fist. With the hammer, for example, the unevenness of the surface of the nail head cannot be felt. Such a sensor system would be pointless for the purpose of driving nails. However, humans can do this with their fingers - and many other things as well.

But there is always a more efficient technical solution for every target-oriented task. The human body is generally there for life, a tool with a specific purpose. The person decides when to use which tool. This principle does not change, even if the tool is called “AI”. Then a chatbot can, for example, automate routine conversations - and do precisely this task more efficiently than a human.

Humans remain creators and clients

Technology has never automated the whole person - rather processes that are based on the division of labor. It is no different with the human expertise of the post-industrial era. Here, too, only the routine based on the division of labor is to be automated. That distracts us anyway from being there consciously as a human being or from making decisions. In such tasks, AI should and will do much better than humans. It will enable targeted, rational problem solving: from simple office activities to the independent management of the entire technical infrastructure of our civilization.

However, regardless of how technology develops, people remain the sole creator of their living environment and the client. Even though people liked to use other people as tools for their personal goals, this situation has always been a temporary solution and has never been satisfactory.

So we don't compete with AI, but with its help we free ourselves from routine and mutual instrumentalization. What we “can do better” will depend on how we understand ourselves. As autonomous carriers of consciousness with our own potential, we should emancipate ourselves in what makes us unique - creativity, spontaneity, improvisation, empathy, and of course knowledge, love, art. Even subjectivity - it is extremely valuable, especially since we as humanity are slowly realizing that there can be no absolute objectivity, but only an intersubjectivity that is as little distorted as possible.

All of these things will soon be more important than technical skills because they will give us answers to the most important questions about “what” and “why”. The “how”, on the other hand, will at some point be completely automated by AI.


* (a publication project in German)

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