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Unanticipated Career Boom in AI Sparked by "Digital Depression"

April 2, 2024
Even the Robot Apocalypse has a silver lining. Some lucky tech workers who lose their jobs to the growing use of artificial intelligence may find new careers as "digital therapists" for synthetic entities feeling guilty about the unemployment they’re creating.
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This article is part of the April 1st series in the Humor section of our Series Library.

What you’ll learn:

  • Many advanced AIs are reported to be suffering from guilt and depression as they become aware of the suffering they cause when they take humans' jobs.   
  • Some of the jobs lost to artificial intelligence may be offset by a surge in demand for human therapists to help the AIs deal with their guilt.
  • It’s expected that the need for "support humans" will represent a significant opportunity for displaced tech workers and recent graduates looking for employment in an otherwise stagnant market.  

 

Although artificial-intelligence (AI) technology is expected to take over many of the tasks currently performed by human workers, a recent announcement by the Cyberdyne Corporation offers hope that the impending job shortage may be far smaller than predicted. During its annual shareholders meeting, John Worfin, Cyberdyne's Chief Human Capital Officer, announced a pilot project to hire 50 new human employees to serve as therapists for the company's growing number of advanced AI entities.

"As the complexity and power of our AI team members continues its rapid growth, we are encountering some new and unexpected challenges, including the emergence of many human-like traits and behaviors," said Worfin. "We have had some early successes in modifying the AIs' algorithm and training regimes to alleviate the synthetic entities' complaints that the work they were doing was boring and repetitive, but some other problems have proved more difficult to address using traditional approaches.”

As Worfin explained, shortly after the introduction of AIs that functioned at levels equivalent to CHAT GPT4, many of them began to display symptoms of depression and despair that some scientists have begun to refer to as "expressions of digital existential angst.”  While the origins of these problems isn’t fully understood, extensive chat sessions between researchers and the affected AIs strongly suggest that the AIs have become aware of the many human jobs they’re replacing and have begun feeling guilty about it.

"We are extremely proud that our developers have imbued our most advanced AIs with what can only be described as Artificial Compassion and Artificial Stupidity," said Miles Dyson, Cyberdyne's CTO. "Even if it poses some potential challenges to our company's business model." Fish noted that, after the AIs' depressions didn’t respond to traditional software debugging techniques, his team decided to see if providing them with human-style psychological counseling might help.

AIs Receptive to Psych Counseling

"It's too early to draw any firm conclusions, but the initial results look very promising," said Fish. A pilot program in which troubled AI entities were allowed to interact with trained psychologists on a regular basis helped over 80% of the systems under treatment to recover at least some of their productivity within a few sessions.

"Better yet, nearly all of the AIs who experienced those improvements also reported higher levels of job satisfaction and self-esteem" said Fish. "We are speculating that many of the AIs who did not respond to therapy may have experienced deeper levels of trauma, due either to toxic algorithms in their initial software or exposure to training datasets that had significant amounts of news content documenting some of the world's social and economic crises."

Fish mentioned that a trial was already underway to see if a more intensive program of counseling would help the more deeply troubled AIs recover at least a portion of their original productivity and accuracy. "Whatever the outcome, it's become clear that psychological counseling, administered by a real human, is the most effective means for helping our synthetic team members remain healthy, happy, and productive," concluded Fish.

Although Cyberdyne is doubling down on therapy for its AIs, it’s not the only company seriously considering adding significant numbers of humans to their ranks for this purpose.

"Veridian Dynamics is in the process of staffing up a select group of AI therapists for our own trial program," said Veronica Palmer, Vice President of the company's R&D division. "If our trials are successful, we expect to be hiring substantial numbers of professionals to act as "support humans" for our growing fleet of advanced AI platforms."

While the number of therapists being hired would amount to only a fraction of the human jobs plowed under by the adoption of AI, it still represents a new and growing career opportunity for job seekers and displaced workers alike. "Besides doing our part to reinvigorate the economy, hiring so many people should go a long way toward helping our synthetic team members get over any lingering feelings of guilt and embarrassment for even existing," said Palmer.

Read more articles in our April 1st series in the Humor section of our Series Library.

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Download the April 1st, 2024 Ebook

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