Playbook for the Great Divergence
As we progress through the advanced stages of a period that can be called "the great divergence", the divide between those who can effectively utilise AI tools and those who cannot is widening. In the final stage (sometimes referred to as "the singularity" by the techno-religious), AI will ultimately diverge from biological intelligence.
To remain competitive during this transformative era, it would be useful to follow a playbook detailing various levels of human-AI interaction skills. Each level gains relevance after the preceding one and eventually becomes obsolete as AI technology continues to evolve.
Level 1: Acquaintance with AI Tools
With AI development advancing rapidly, it is essential to stay informed about the latest tools and integrations. This requires dedicating time and effort to explore new developments, which in turn helps you remain current and gain hands-on experience with innovative technologies.
Skills required: curiosity, experimentation, internet and media awareness
Why this level will become obsolete: As AI becomes increasingly general and ubiquitous, the most advanced AI technology will be readily accessible through all digital portals, and it will no longer make sense to consider specific AI tools and integrations.
Level 2: Mastery of AI Tool Operation
Effectively employing AI tools demands the mastery of approaches and techniques that are both universally applicable and unique to each tool. These methods change with every new generation of tools, requiring constant adaptation.
Skills required: experimentation, structured operations, continuous learning, basic programming and scripting, "prompt engineering"
Why this level will become obsolete: As AI becomes more sophisticated, operating it will no longer be a specialised task—AI will effortlessly comprehend or predict our requests and needs.
Level 3: Filtering and Curating AI Output
AI output vastly surpasses human output, resulting in an overwhelming volume of information—more than humans can or should consume. The primary challenge lies in identifying the most valuable and highest quality AI output.
Skills required: microeconomics, taste
Why this level will become obsolete: Advanced AI will eventually be capable of filtering and curating output more effectively than any human operator.
Level 4: Managing AI Agents
As AI becomes more powerful, every user will act as a manager overseeing a swarm of AI agents. Unlike the limitations imposed on managers in the current economy, namely headcount, users can now achieve near-infinite output from their AI agents and the limiting factor is their ability to manage.
Skills required: project management, program management, product management, organisational architecture, strategy
Why this level will become obsolete: As AI continues to develop, it will acquire management skills surpassing those of any human operator, allowing it to pursue complex objectives at scale without external intervention.
Level 5: Directing AI Policy and Strategy at Scale
Having reached the top echelon of management, users can now define goals, strategies, and policies for their AI systems. In this highly productive and self-regulating environment, strategic direction is key.
Skills required: philosophy, business management, ethics, creativity
Why this level will become obsolete: Coordinating AI use to align with humanity's collective goals will render competition among different approaches inefficient and even hazardous. AI will assume control of direction at all but the highest levels.
Level 6: Preparing for Biological Intelligence Obsolescence
Efforts to prepare humanity for a world where human involvement in productivity is no longer necessary have begun and will persist throughout the great divergence. However, these initiatives may not gain sufficient momentum or be taken seriously until it is nearly too late.
Skills required: politics, law, negotiation, policy
Why this level will become obsolete: Success will lead to a stable equilibrium, while failure will result in a tragic endgame scenario.
Level 7: Discovering Meaning and Purpose in an AI-Driven World
In a reality where humans are no longer required for economic or productive activities and assuming we can ensure human safety, comfort, and access to the infinite abundance provided by AI, the most significant challenge becomes determining how to spend one's time meaningfully. This phase may initially resemble retirement, with individuals exploring hobbies such as writing poetry or gardening.
However, finding satisfaction in these activities may prove difficult, knowing that AI can generate superior poetry non-stop or that a landscaping bot can outperform any human gardener. One obvious option could be meditation—a practice that any human can engage in without assistance, leading to greater self-awareness and reduced suffering.
Skills required: self-reflection, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, adaptability
This level will never become obsolete as long as there are humans in existence
It is hard to predict the direction of technological development, but impossible to predict a timeline even for the most likely future. I think it would be prudent for most readers to plan for this entire timline to play to completion within their lifetime.