AI takeover not inevitable but imminent, warns Jon Stewart

AI is no joke, but comedian Jon Stewart is apparently always up for a laugh when staring into the void of a potential human-assisted robot takeover. After all, that’s his style.

Last week, the former host of The daily show for over a decade and the current part-time moderator went through The City with Matthew Belloni, a podcast from The Ringer. Like a late-night Paul Revere rerun, Stewart warned listeners about how quickly and potentially damaging an AI invasion could be.

“It is coming for everyone and it will decimate the workforce in a way we have not seen,” he told Belloni, comparing it to the Industrial Revolution in that it changed the course of history. And unlike other historical periods of economic change, he predicts the AI ​​upheaval will happen in the blink of an eye.

“AI is going to ruin this in a week when it’s finally online,” Stewart said. He described it as an accelerated version of the level of destruction that the automotive and industrial revolution had on blue-collar workers.

Discussing how AI is trained in human work to be a more efficient version of what they do, Stewart noted: “We are aiding and abetting our own destruction; Has no sense.”

He added that the public is likely only seeing a basic version of what Silicon Valley has to offer, and that fully realized confidential editions of its products are probably “frighteningly capable of replacing 70% of the workforce.”

Calls to regulate AI have grown louder recently, and for now are playing out mostly in the Hollywood setting, but a storm is brewing. Creatives in the music industry, as well as the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA), have rejected the outright use of AI as potentially harmful to art in general and their jobs. Executives could outsource their work amid fights for fair wages. It’s probably just the first wave of many, according to Stewart. It’s also not just aimed at small fish, he cautioned. The sharks befriending Silicon Valley are likely to eventually be threatened as well.

“If you don’t think this will affect development executives and everyone else, you’re wrong, brother,” Stewart warned.

Last February, Tyler Perry said he was pausing his multimillion-dollar plans to expand his studio after seeing Sora, OpenAI’s video generation technology. Expressing concern about job losses, Perry said that at the rate technology is advancing, it seems like “everyone in the industry is running a hundred miles an hour to try to catch up, to try to put up guardrails.” Pushing for government involvement, Perry projected that AI will change other industries as well.

“AI is not going to replace you, the person who can use it will,” and phrases like that have become increasingly common among CEOs and wealthy entrepreneurs alike. But that’s not the whole truth, Stewart said. “What they’re saying to their shareholders is, ‘This is going to be a way to increase productivity without the need for labor,'” he said. The real question about AI “is how do we use it as a tool without it becoming a factory,” he continued.

This isn’t the first time Stewart has raised red flags about our dizzying path toward an AI world. “We’ve been through technological advances before, and all of them have promised a utopian life without monotony,” Stewart said in The daily show this April. “But the reality is that they come for our jobs.”

He warned that Silicon Valley will have to learn to harness the brakes if it is to avoid this man-made AI disruption. In that sense, a great explosion of AI “is not inevitable. But unfortunately it’s going to take quite a while to put it back in the bag,” he stated.

Of course, the government also has something to do with this, even if slowly. As Stewart said: “This is the more digital problem that is being handled by the more preventative analog system.” He called out baby boomers in politics who are becoming outgoing ducks and asked OpenAI CEO Sam Altman for help.

He recalled how government figures similarly welcomed social media with open arms and are now criticizing executives to try to hold them accountable for the damage they have caused. “Now, how many times do they call those guys in front of Congress and say, ‘You’re making all of our daughters sad,’” she said. “Everyone’s Urkel when it comes to all this shit,” she said, referring to the catchphrase that came too late. Did I do that?

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