The Utopian Vision of AI
In the late 1800s, in what's known as the Second Industrial Revolution, multiple major new technologies initiated an era marked by even more rapid transformation than the century that preceded it — especially in the United States. Electrification, railroads, telegraphs, and eventually the automobile all helped unleash unprecedented productivity gains, and thus unprecedented prosperity.
But these and other new technologies of that era didn't just raise standards of living. They also radically transformed how people lived.
Electrification meant people could suddenly do far more at night than they'd ever done before. There was a massive shift from rural living to cities. Railroads and telegraphs enabled new networks of communication and distribution. Skyscrapers concentrated human capital and allowed corporations to take on increasingly sophisticated endeavors.
Overall, life got faster and more connected, and much, much richer with possibilities. These new technologies, in other words, didn't just change how people, goods, or information got from one place to another. They changed how people dreamed about the future. They created new social relations and life patterns. They expanded conceptions about what one might aspire to, what defined a "good life," and how one should achieve meaning or purpose. They re-defined what it means to be human.