Apple’s Siri Provides Clues About Whether Robots Will Put Us All Out of Work

How HomePod and Siri begin to interface to our home and our work will tell us something about our future.

I keep seeing articles that say either 1) AI and robots will put us all out of work, and 2) Humans and robots will co-exist and humans will simply escalate to a new level human-machine interface in mid-21st century jobs. So which is it?

What concerns me is that so many of the jobs humans do nowadays are ripe for replacement by AIs that will either be disembodied or placed in robots. That’s because companies see immediate cost-saving benefits. This raises questions for me.

  • Can our education systems and our socio-economics react fast enough to truly elevate human interactions with machines to an unprecedented level?
  • Can societal structure be revised to provide basic human needs at lower cost so that we can live a Star Trek-like future?
  • Will the values of companies like Apple dictate this evolution, or will basic human greed overrule ethical concerns?

It could well be that AI assistants in their current infancy can be leveraged by smart humans to achieve new levels of achievement and productivity. That meme might propel the designers of AIs, like Apple, to develop them along specific lines that are favorable to human partnership and intellectual evolution.

The second article I’ve linked to below ponders that notion:

This could result in societal changes of greater freedom of location and a basic income. In a way, the Automation Age may be an enhanced return to the hunter/gatherer period of humanity where basic needs were provided, originally by nature, in the future by machines. Except in the Automation Age, our purpose will be to explore what it means to be human instead of simply survive.

On the other hand, if there are overwhelming incentives to squeeze the human out of the loop, then our own evolution will be stunted. It all depends on the economics, in the short term, of designing AIs to partner with humans instead of going it alone.

Pepper. Image credit: Soft Bank Robotics. Partner or replacement?

Anyway, as I mentioned above, here are two articles that explore the issues.

Along those lines, we can get a early picture of how AI will interact with us in the future by looking at the current state-of-the-art. That is, Siri, Alexa and Cortana. Here again, the ethics of privacy vs. corporate intrusion (and control) will play out. Fast Company ponders: “To Win The AI Assistant Wars, Apple Is Melding Siri With Its Other Services.

In summary, if the values that Apple instills in Siri make it non-competitive or slow down its development, how will Apple react? Can Apple turn Siri into such a compelling AI that it can shrug off potentially less ethical competitors? How will Apple market that strategy? Is Apple even thinking about these implications? My guess is yes.

Next Page: The News Debris For The Week Of August 14th. Another Apple blockbuster movie deal.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

John: Your lead with ‘Siri provides clues…’ is a great and ongoing discussion about AI, our relationship to it, and its impact on human well-being. While it’s a great diversion from the unpleasantness bedevilling socio-political discussions and debates, it also lacks a bedrock of data on which to ground discussion and come to hard and evidence-based conclusions, thus most of this discussion remains speculative and theoretical and any conclusions selective. That said, there are some proven guiding principles that we can use to shape that discussion. Regarding the debate about whether or not AI will put us out of work,… Read more »

Lee Dronick

Is the tutu app available in the Apple App Store?

Lee Dronick

That is quite a story Geoduck. Even if robots don’t take control of us, idle hands are the Devil’s workshop and some sort of positive activity needs to fill our free time.


Ive had a different question about robots replacing humans.
if so many people lose their jobs and are replaced by robots, whos going to buy the stuff the robots make? I actually addressed this question in a short story I wrote this spring..