‘Speak to my Bot’ – How AI Butlers May Redefine the Class System
Jan. 31, 2024. 5 min. read.
Will AI assistants redefine justice and communication, while deepening disparities based on access and quality?
AI assistants are powerful. Already, those who can program AI assistants in fields like trading and traffic control have employers beating down their door. Knowledge and access to tech is perhaps the greatest distributor of wealth in society today. At this stage in our civilization, the advance of our computerised systems is the advance of the human race.
If you have a smartphone and access to the internet, and the person next to you doesn’t, you are at a massive edge in knowledge. There are levels beyond this. A hedge fund trader using HFT bots with fibre-optic access to the NYSE is going to beat your high score.
Lowering the Skill Floor
Yet with generative AI and LLMs that can process natural language, with widespread access to initial GPT models – a great levelling of the playing field has occurred, one so powerful that amongst the hype it’s still going slightly unnoticed. Take a small example: AI producing art. If you wanted to create a graphic novel but couldn’t draw, you couldn’t. Now, you can. Whether it’s good, readable, or interesting is still up for grabs. That’s up to the human agent feeding inputs, but the creation of the graphic novel is possible. In fact it’s nearly instant.
This is a fabulous labour-shortening device and a brilliant way to lower the bar to entry of hundreds of professions. GPT models can help you get your idea on the page, on the screen, in the architectural modelling software. Words, pictures or design. Access to art has just undergone an inflation as rapid as the start of the universe. If you have a computer and an internet connection you can make technically complex art. That wasn’t possible until a year ago.
This concept of AI lowering the skill floor to certain fields is going to redefine our society. When it comes to art, the idea feels amazing, but when it comes to fighting parking tickets, something which AI has been doing for years, it begins to sink in how its transformative influence can reach into every mundane niche of life.
AI models trained could make wrongly issued parking tickets will soon become a thing of the past, while removing the headache, expense, and time-sink which would normally be associated in the legal fight.
Experts at Everything
Suddenly, we all have AI lawyers, meaning menial infractions that often are accepted due to the headache of achieving justice will gradually evaporate from society. And this is a great thing. Legal access and defence was frequently the preserve of the rich, who could farm out the job to others. It’s not just parking tickets. Next it will be asylum claims, custody battles, and employment tribunals. Bureaucratic law will have its skill floor significantly lowered. With AI legal assistance, legal victimisation of the poor will become a thing of the past.
What’s after the lawyers? If sophisticated AI agents become accessible to the majority of the population, the skill-base in society, and the ability for each member of the society to operate in society, takes a leap up. If you are (god forbid) involved in a car crash, and you need to exchange insurance with someone, there is no need for panicked road rage. We will all have our own AI Butlers on our smartphone. When a legal or consumer interaction occurs, we simply scan our phones and let our AI Butlers do the talking. It really gives ‘Ask Jeeves’ another meaning. Hyper-competency will be inscribed into the population at an atomic level, and the world will be a more functioning and fairer place for it.
A Class System Defined by Bots
Or will it? Already, blots appear in the purity of such visions. What if my AI Butler is better than yours? What if I had discrete, specialised access to a higher tier of bot, trained by the finest legal firms, augmented with gnomic archives of legal texts which common-tier bots don’t have access too. Sure, I may crash into you, but my Butler is Gold, and yours is Silver – so your chances of getting any money out of me shrink. In fact, I’m going to sue you.
It’s easy to imagine a new class-based system, one determined by the quality of data our personal Butlers are trained on. The eternal class struggle echoes on, in a strange new form. Already, there are paid models of ChatGPT. Already, corporations’ internal bots are more limitless than the ones you can use. It’s a trend that will only continue.
Talk to the Bot, ’cause the Face Ain’t Listening
There’s a danger even in utopia too. If we give over everyday interactions to our AI helpers, if we continue to hide behind ‘the help’, we may find ourselves ever more divorced and alienated from basic human interactions. We have already found ourselves drifting away from each other in the digital constellations. A world where we rely on our AI Butlers to order our drinks, pay our bills, buy our houses and organise our wedding contracts may see us forget the joy of just working it out together as we go along, like apes around the fire, remarking on mirages in the smoke. If we let our tools do our talking, we may forget how to communicate at all.