Beyond Prosperity, AI Will Imbue the World With Immense Dignity
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“Tech is maximally tolerant of any personality if you’re delivering.” Those are the words of Alex Karp, CEO of Palantir Technologies. And they speak to a beautiful future for those who possess different minds, and different skills. Karp was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article titled “Jobs Grow for the Autistic Beyond Tech.” What a story. What a future!

View it as an antidote to the worry expressed by some that AI and other advances in automated work and thought are set to either erase certain forms of work altogether, or substantial aspects of work. One can only hope that’s true. Stated more bluntly, what has people worried about AI is actually its greatest, most growth-enhancing, most compassionate feature. Automation will expand work opportunities for the narrow-skilled, including the autistic.

To see why, consider Karp’s words yet again. Technology by its very name amounts to the brilliant replacement of human effort with machines that do, and increasingly think for us. What’s important is that this automation doesn’t replace human effort as much as it enhances it.

We know this given our intimate understanding of labor division. The arrival of new hands to an island, city block, city, state, or country don’t put people out of work, rather they propel individuals to ever more specialized work. Reduced to the basics, one man working alone could possibly create a really awful, unreliable toaster oven, but multiple men working together at a wide variety of specialized tasks can produce thousands per day. The more “hands,” whether human or automated, the more specialized and well-paid the work will be.   

Which is yet another reason to contemplate the profound meaning of AI. What we can accomplish if it lives up to its promise well exceeds our ability to imagine, but the bigger story here concerns what it will mean for those seemingly born different.

To see why this matters, stop and think about tech’s tolerance of any personality. And in thinking about it, try to imagine if the personalities that thrive in technology today would have similarly prospered in an agrarian economy, or in most aspects of a service economy. It’s no reach or insight to say how fortunate Karp, Sam Altman and Elon Musk are to have been born when they were.

Seriously, what market applications would their brains and skills have matched with when farming was the primary source of work, and how might they do in a world dominated by person-to-person interaction? What if the economy were defined by skill in sports, or brute force?

The simple, cruel truth is that the fewer people working, and the fewer machines working alongside humans, the fewer skill-sets and unique minds that can find gainful, talent-enhancing, confidence-boosting, and charisma-projecting employment. Which is why we should yet again not just welcome AI, but pine for it.

Talented people are confident people, and with confidence comes happiness. Looked at through the past, stop and think how many remarkable talents and minds were suffocated by a lack of progress, a lack of labor division, and a lack of machines powered by fossil fuels such that exceedingly few skills or mind types were rewarded on the job.

That’s no longer the case. As I argued in my 2018 book The End of Work, there are no lazy people or stupid people, but there is a lack of progress borne of a lack of economic growth. When we’re not progressing as a consequence of shedding the jobs of the past, we’re similarly not “discovering that atypical ways of thinking can be a qualification rather than a disability.” In other words, we’re not discovering untapped genius.

Looking ahead, the mechanization of so much will unearth exponentially more in terms of ways that the seemingly abnormal can not only work, but thrive at work. Soaring individual confidence will be found in this automated future, along with immense dignity.

John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, President of the Parkview Institute, a senior fellow at the Market Institute, and a senior economic adviser to Applied Finance Advisors ( His latest book, released on April 16, 2024 and co-authored with Jack Ryan, is Bringing Adam Smith Into the American Home: A Case Against Homeownership

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